Erling Haaland’s return from injury took a backseat as fellow striker Julian Alvarez stole the show, propelling Manchester City to a comfortable victory against Burnley.
Haaland, making his first appearance since fracturing his foot in early December, entered the match as a substitute in the 71st minute at Etihad Stadium. However, his notable involvement included a mis-kicked attempt on goal, drawing amusement from teammates Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic on the bench.
On the contrary, Julian Alvarez marked his 24th birthday in style, earning the Man of the Match accolade by becoming the 10th player to score two or more goals on their birthday in a Premier League game. Alvarez’s impressive goals came in the first half, with a headed effort from a Matheus Nunes cross and a well-executed finish from a Kevin de Bruyne free-kick routine.
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Rodri added a third goal early in the second half, securing City’s eighth consecutive win across all competitions and their 13th consecutive victory against Burnley. Despite Burnley’s late consolation goal by Ameen Al-Dakhil, City maintained their dominance, securing a crucial win in their pursuit of an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title.
Pep Guardiola acknowledged the brilliance of Alvarez’s goals and credited set-piece coach Carlos Vicens for the execution of a perfectly planned free-kick routine. Kevin De Bruyne’s return to the starting lineup showcased his world-class ability, as he played a pivotal role in Alvarez’s second goal.
While Haaland’s return was met with cheers from the fans, his misfortune in front of goal became a subject for banter, and it is anticipated that he will soon regain his scoring form.
For Burnley, the loss further compounds their relegation concerns, with their battle against the drop intensifying. Manager Vincent Kompany will be disappointed with his team’s defensive lapses but hopes to capitalize on any potential points deductions faced by Everton and Nottingham Forest.
In summary, Manchester City’s comfortable win allows them to stay in contention for the league title, while Burnley faces an uphill battle to avoid relegation.