ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester City 2
LONDON • If Manchester City are supposed to be concentrating their resources on returning to the top of the Premier League after securing European football for next year, they went about it in an odd way at Turf Moor yesterday, resting John Stones and leaving David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne on the bench.
Nonetheless, two goals from Sergio Aguero meant they came from behind to beat Burnley 2-1.
City went behind early, with 37-year-old goalkeeper Paul Robinson, making his Burnley debut after two years without a league game, providing an assist.
Burnley sent everyone forward for a free kick that the goalkeeper clipped into the box.
When the ball was only half cleared, Dean Marney pounced on it gratefully to score with a right-foot volley from the edge of the area.
If City needed a wake-up call, and a generally flat first-half display suggested that they did, Marney provided it before being forced off through injury.
But it took a while for them to respond, as this was far from City at their slick and smooth-passing best.
Shortly after Yaya Toure had struck the frame of the goal and booted the ball away in frustration, Raheem Sterling and Nolito forced Michael Keane to concede a corner.
With the ball bobbling scruffily around the six-yard box, Aguero was able to poke home a close-range equaliser in the 37th minute.
City kept up the pressure in the second half, forcing Burnley ever deeper in defence, and the only surprise when Aguero gave the visitors the lead on the hour was that once again Robinson was beaten from just a couple of metres out.
An attacking move appeared to have broken down when Toure's surging run saw him upended but rather than pressing claims for a penalty, City heeded the referee's instruction to play on.
And, after Fernandinho had chased down the ball to cross from the narrowest of angles, Aguero made sure he was in place to supply the required touch in front of goal.
"He (Aguero) played really well and moved really well. He had a really good game," said City manager Pep Guardiola.
"From the beginning he was ready, his body language was very good."
The match became a little fractious in the final quarter and Burnley had their moments as they tried to salvage a point. However, City held on for the win.
"If you want to be a champion, you have to play a game like this," said City skipper Fernandinho.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE