Manchester City came from a goal behind to avoid an FA Cup upset as they secured a hard-fought 4-1 victory over Burnley at Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Despite Manchester City dominating possession and territory in the first half, Ashley Barnes made the home side pay for a defensive error by emphatically firing Burnley into the lead.
However, a two-minute attacking blitz from City in the second half fired the home side to victory as Sergio Agüero dispatched two goals before Leroy Sané and Bernardo Silva added the extras to send City into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Continuing in the vein of form which has them placed firmly atop of the Premier League table, Manchester City started the FA Cup tie against the Clarets on the front foot, peppering Burnley’s box in waves in the opening minutes.
For all City’s domination, however, they failed to test Nick Pope in goal which allowed Burnley to steady the ship and gain a foothold in the clash as they deployed a high press against the Citizens – which almost came at the ultimate price for Pep Guardiola’s side.
A rare sight of goal for the away side looked to have opened the scoring as a corner given away cheaply by Claudio Bravo offered a golden opportunity for Burnley to capitalise on, as a header from Ben Mee at the back post fell kindly to Barnes, but an air swing merely a yard away from the goal line allowed City to clear.
City failed to head the warning as Barnes quickly put his disappointment aside when a miss-timed clearance by John Stones fell perfectly for the striker, who powered through on goal and slammed the ball inside the near post to give the Clarets the lead in the 24th minute.
The home side looked to respond straight away as they poured forward with intent, but İlkay Gündoğan had his shot inside the box effectively blocked by Matthew Lowton, with the resulting corner falling to Fernandinho whose effort narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Guardiola’s men continued their attempts to unlock Burnley’s organised and well-drilled defence, only for their slick movement and passes to be blocked at every turn, with no one willing to gamble on their enticing deliveries into the box – as they astonishingly ended the half with no shots on target.
The second period started where the first left off, with City injecting the tempo into the game and Burnleyholding firm and piecing together dangerous attacks on the counter.
However, the game was soon flipped on its head in the space of two-minutes as City turned on the firepower and showed why they are considered one of Europe’s leading clubs this season.
The combination of Gündoğan and Agüero proved lethal in the final third as the pair combined with devastating effect. Firstly, a quick free-kick caught Burnley napping as a pinpoint pass was threaded through the Clarets defensive set up to see Agüero hit the back of the net in the 57th minute.
The Argentina international scored his second of the afternoon soon after when a one-two with Gundogan saw the ball fed back to the striker with a back-heel, with Agüero then easing his way around Pope to slot the ball into an empty net in the 58th minute.
Two soon became three for City when Sané slotted the ball past Pope from a tight angle in the 71st minute, finishing off a superb one-two combination with David Silva.
The knockout blow was then delivered in an emphatic fashion in the 82nd minute when Kevin de Bruyne’s perfectly weighted diagonal pass sent Sane through on goal, Pope was found in no man’s land on the edge of the box which allowed the 21-year-old to calmly play in Silva who passed the ball into an empty net.
Manchester City will now progress to the next stage of the competition, with the fourth round draw to take place on Monday, January 8, with the tie to be played on the 27th.
Next up for City is a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Premier League, with Burnley set to travel to Crystal Palace next weekend.