BURNLEY 0, MAN CITY 3
Razor-sharp Raheem Sterling helped propel Manchester City into the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup.
The striker opened his goalscoring account for the season with a brace in an emphatic fourth-round victory at Burnley.
There was also a first goal for Spaniard Ferran Torres as City, beaten 5-2 at home to Leicester City on Sunday, were never troubled as they breezed to victory at rainswept Turf Moore.
Indeed, the only surprise was they only triumphed by a three-goal margin such was their superiority.
Had it not been for the heroics of Clarets’ goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Wright, they would have won by a far larger scoreline.
City manager Pep Guardiola, who described the Carabao Cup as special to the club, praised the qualities of Sterling who had developed into a prolific marksman.Embed from Getty Images
He said: “Since I arrived from day one, he is able to play every three days.
“He can play three positions up front and there is always a sense of danger for opponents.
“He has grown up a lot. It’s important for the team when we have problems up front that he can do this and score goals.”
Guardiola was glowing of 18-year-old debutant Cole Palmer.
He said: “Cole is an incredible young lad with special qualities.
“He is so clever, a box-to-box player and he has a huge future in this club.
“Cole had not played for two or three months. He’s humble, works a lot, ran with the counter attacks, intuitive, incredible with finishing like Phil (Foden).
“He had a chance to score. His debut was against a Premier League team which is good for his future.”
Guardiola also paid tribute to departing Nicolas Otamendi, a makeweight as part of the deal which brought Ruben Dias to the Etihad in a £64 million move from Benfica.
He said: “Ota was part of the success we had. He helped us incredibly, especially the season we won the title with 100 points.
“We felt we needed a younger squad, Vincent and Nico were over 30 – they are gone. I wish him and the family all the best, he has my gratitude how he’s helped me from day one.
“I’m sure he will do good and will always be part of my best memories. I think he’s happy moving there, we were able to say bye.”
City handed a first senior appearance to Palmer, the midfielder/striker from Wythenshawe, who has been at City since U8 level, had only previously featured for the U21s in the EFL Trophy.
He took his place in a City side appreciably stronger than the one that started in the previous round against AFC Bournemouth which featured five teenagers.
This time Palmer was the only teen on show as City included Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Benjamin Mendy who were all on the bench against the Cherries.
There was also a first start for summer signing Ferran Torres in a near full-strength side captained by Fernandinho and which also included Aymeric Laporte who had recovered from Covid-19, Rodrigo and Riyad Mahrez.
Burnley had James Tarkowski and Ashley Barnes making their first appearances of the season after recovering from injuries as Sean Dyche fielded most of his key players.
City did not appear damaged by the loss to the Foxes as they began positively and would have built an unassailable half-time advantage but for the brilliance of Peacock-Farrell to keep the Clarets’ deficit to one goal.
Before Burnley made a 35th minute breakthrough, the former Leeds United keeper pulled off super stops to deny Sterling twice – saves he had no right to make – and Palmer.
It was only a matter of time before City went ahead and it followed a lovely-constructed goal.
Laporte released Mendy on the left and he squared a pass to hand Sterling’s first goal of the season on a plate from 10 yards.
And in the closing minutes of the half, Sterling had two further chances to extend the lead, one well kept out by Peacock-Farrell, while Torres struck the outside of the upright as he stretched to meet Mahrez’s cross in a half in which City enjoyed 72 per cent possession and had 11 goal attempts to the hosts four.
Burnley rarely threatened, though they had two lukewarm appeals for penalties waved away by referee Andrew Madley.
City effectively wrapped up victory within four minutes of the restart when Sterling struck again.
De Bruyne made a break before straying a pass to Torres on the left and he crossed for Sterling to convert from inside the six-yard box.
Torres had a chance to add a third for City but his goalbound shot was blocked.
City made their first change mid-half when De Bruyne made way for Bernardo Silva.
Torres made no mistake in the 65th minute with his first City goal.
Mahrez made the break and his pass was helped by Sterling into the path of the Spaniard whose low shot from the left of the penalty area arrowed into the far corner.
The goal was followed by a second City change as Kyle Walker was replaced by teenager Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Sterling was denied a hat trick by another important block by Peacock-Farrell after being set up by Mahrez.
City’s last change saw Rodrigo replaced by Nathan Ake which enabled Fernandinho to move from defence into midfield.