Manager Pep Guardiola praised his Manchester City side for their “beautiful, beautiful goals” as they remained top of the Premier League with a convincing win over Burnley.
Sparkling finishes from Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez, in particular, caught the eye as City maintained their 100% home record this season.
“After we scored the second goal and third quickly it was much easier,” Guardiola said.
“The finish from Bernardo was not easy. The goals were so outstanding – beautiful, beautiful goals – and the chances we created, and it’s three more points.”
Guardiola’s side were briefly knocked off the summit by Chelsea’s draw with Manchester United earlier on Saturday, but opened up a two-point lead before Liverpool moved level on points with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield in the late kick-off.
City’s procession towards the three points was initially held up by Clarets keeper Joe Hart, making his first return to Etihad Stadium after ending his 12-year stay in the summer.
Hart, a huge crowd favourite during his spell at the club, made superb first-half stops to deny Sergio Aguero and David Silva, but was powerless to stop Aguero firing home as the duo combined to round off a neat passing move. Hart’s afternoon was to get a lot worse.
Burnley barely threatened before half-time but their hopes were only truly extinguished when City added two more goals in two minutes shortly before the hour mark.
There was some controversy about City’s second goal, which came after Leroy Sane went down in the area under a challenge by Jack Cork.
Referee Jon Moss waved play on but the Burnley defence stopped, allowing Silva to retrieve the ball before it ran out of play and cross for Silva to sweep home.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche and his players continued to protest as the game resumed, although it was unclear whether they felt the game had been stopped, or that the ball had gone behind before Silva reached it.
It clearly played on the Clarets’ minds, however, and their usual defensive organisation was nowhere to be seen when, seconds later, a corner was cleared as far as Fernandinho on the edge of the area and he found a sublime finish.
From that point, the game was over as a contest, although the City fans still had more reasons to celebrate, firstly when a fit-again Kevin de Bruyne appeared off the bench for his first appearance since the opening weekend of the season.
There were more goals to come as Fernandinho teed up Riyad Mahrez to curl home a superb fourth goal late on, and Sane converted a Benjamin Mendy cross.
Hart makes unhappy return
Hart, 31, had to contend with Cardiff fans chanting “England’s number four” at him during Burnley’s last away game, but got a much warmer reception on his return to his former home.
Even Guardiola, who loaned him out for two seasons before selling him last summer, wrote some affectionate words about the England international in his programme notes.
Hart, who won every major domestic honour during his time at City, was given a standing ovation by the home fans before the game, but the occasion will not be remembered for his fine saves to keep out Aguero’s acrobatic volley or Silva’s close-range header.
Hart would have been hoping for a clean sheet that became his trademark during his time at City – he managed 82 on home turf alone.
Instead, on his 180th appearance here, and his first as an opposition player, he conceded five goals at Etihad Stadium for the first time.
“There is a feeling of frustration in my chest right now,” Hart said. “The crowd reaction was nice but I came here as a Burnley player. It was far from a perfect day.”
However, there was little he could do about any of the goals, with Burnley’s usually solid defence looking particularly brittle in the second half, and collapsing completely by the end.
Dyche lists Burnley grievances
Burnley did not manage a single shot on target and Dyche accepted his side were well beaten, but felt big decisions went against them at “key moments” of the game.
That started in the very first minute, when Vincent Kompany’s reckless challenge on Burnley winger Aaron Lennon saw the City captain booked.
Dyche said: “Kompany is out of control and he does not know where the man is, or the ball. It is just a throw of the leg and it is high – Aaron has got a cut with two stitches in it, high in his thigh.
“It is not vicious or anything but there is no control in the challenge and we are told that is a big thing in challenges like that, so in the modern game that is a red card.”
While Dyche felt his players were at fault for switching off for City’s second goal, he was adamant it should not have stood, with Hart also saying the assistant referee apologised to him later.
Dyche said: “Sane goes down with the tiniest of touches and the referee is going to blow his whistle, but then decides not to and waves it away.
“In the meantime a player who is off the pitch has walked back on the pitch to go and get the ball that is off the pitch to deliver a cross that they then score from. If that is not confusing for everyone in the stadium, it is certainly confusing for me.
“I thought it at the time, and I have seen it back since. With the best view that we can get of it, the ball is out of play, so you can forget about everything else.”
Dyche also felt Sane should have been sent off late on for a challenge on Matt Lowton.
“With Sane right at the end, it has got to be a red card,” Dyche added. “He kicked Matt for no reason at all, just smashing him around his legs. It has got to be a red card, as simple as that.”
Man of the match – Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
Five goals again for City – the stats
- Manchester City are now unbeaten in their past 34 Premier League games kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday – the longest such run in the competition (W30 D4).
- This was City’s 23rd Premier League victory by a margin of five goals or more – 10 of them have been under manager Pep Guardiola.
- This was just Burnley’s fourth Premier League defeat by five or more goals – half of them have been against City.
- There were only 115 seconds between City’s second and third goals.
- City’s David Silva provided more than one assist in a Premier League game for the 12th time. Only Ryan Giggs (17), Cesc Fabregas (17) and Thierry Henry (13) have done so in more.
- City’s Sergio Aguero has scored seven goals in seven games in all competitions against Burnley, including in all four appearances against them at the Etihad.
- Silva has assisted Sergio Aguero more than any other City player in all competitions (20).
- City’s Fernandinho scored and assisted in a Premier League game for only the second time, also doing so against West Brom in October 2017.
Manchester City travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday (20:00 BST).
City face Tottenham at Wembley on Monday 29 October (20:00 GMT), while Burnley welcome Chelsea to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, 28 October (13:30 GMT).