Phil Foden leads Manchester City's ruthless dismantling of Burnley

Manchester City were a juggernaut Burnley just could not stop but next visitors Liverpool could claim the Premier League title on the champions’ home turf on Thursday week.

For the scenario to occur City must beat Chelsea on Thursday – if Liverpool have defeated Crystal Palace 24 hours earlier – to keep the race alive, though Jürgen Klopp’s men ending a 30-year drought for the Merseyside club is a virtual fait accompli.

Pep Guardiola’s team were as good as they can be on a night marred by a flyby from a plane displaying a banner reading: “White Lives Matter Burnley”. This grim moment occurred after a knee was taken by players and officials to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Guardiola made eight changes from the 3-0 win here over Arsenal. This included a new back four plus Phil Foden for Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero for Gabriel Jesus in attack. Foden, in particular, proved excellent in a two-goal, man-of-the match display.

“That was my best game in a City shirt,” he said. “I’m still learning every day and I’m still young and I’ve got a long way to go but I’m just happy when I put performances in like that.”

For Burnley’s first action since a 1-1 draw with Tottenham on 7 March Sean Dyche selected from a depleted squad. This was due to Jeff Hendrick, Phil Bardsley, Aaron Lennon and Joe Hart all being out of contract on 30 June –none having agreed extensions – plus injuries to Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, their first-choice strikers.

It meant Matej Vydra partnered Jay Rodriguez in attack, and allowed 24-year-old midfielder Josh Brownhill to make his full Premier League debut, while Bobby Thomas, Lukas Jensen and Max Thompson were replacements for a first time, as Dyche named only seven substitutes.

The Clarets last won away against City 57 years ago and by the break were 3-0 down. Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko were all quickly into their rhythm as City enjoyed the kind of stranglehold they love.

Soon, they had the opener. A short corner on the right went to Bernardo Silva. He swept the ball to Foden at the edge of the Burnley area and, from here, the No 47 illustrated his class, firing a bullet into the corner. This followed his strike against Arsenal and was a fifth in total this season.

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If Burnley went straight back at City via Dwight McNeil along their left, in two passages that caused João Cancelo to appear troubled, this was as good as their opening period got. Foden had scored just before the drinks break and Guardiola was animated in instructing the team about how they could prosper further.

By half-time his word had been acted on in what had the makings of a rout. First, Riyad Mahrez’s wizardry allowed him to take a raking 50-yard Fernandinho pass, turn Charlie Taylor inside and out, then smash a right foot finish that allowed Nick Pope, the visiting keeper, no chance.

Then, a little later, VAR intervened – much to Dyche’s chagrin. Foden turned the ball into Agüero from the left, Ben Mee challenged an ankle and the forward went down. After a pause in which an injured Agüero being replaced by Jesus, VAR ruled a penalty and Mahrez beat Pope to his right.

At the interval Burnley released a statement condemning the banner’s sentiment, making it clear that those responsible are not welcome at the club. On the pitch the team’s best hope was to try and nick a goal and see where it might take them. What occurred, though, was Zinchenko letting fly from 20-yards – to David Silva’s disapproval, the Spaniard thinking he should have been found instead.

Foden is a far better decision-maker and has an invaluable X factor that allows him to make something happen seemingly whenever he is involved. This time his shot forced a corner, the 19-year-old received this, fashioned a sweetly disguised switch of a pass to Bernardo Silva, and his low cross was turned in by David Silva.

Burnley were being schooled – a treatment many teams have suffered from Guardiola’s City. The performance was a perfect follow-up to the win over Arsenal and again highlighted the folly that was failing to bolster central defence last summer: the key reason for Liverpool holding a 20-point lead over such a scintillating creative force.

Foden’s second showed the ruthlessness Guardiola demands, and there was even a 10-minute cameo for Leroy Sané in his first appearance since August due to injury. At the end Foden limped, an ice-pack visible on his left leg. “It’s great to be part of and I’m enjoying my football at the moment,” he said.