Monday, 2 January 2017


Fernandinho optically discerned red but Gael Clichy and
substitute Sergio Aguero secured the points
for Pep Guardiola's men on Monday
Substitute Sergio Aguero proved
Manchester City's hero as they
surmounted Burnley in a tense 2-1 victory at
the Etihad Stadium, despite playing virtually
an hour with 10 men.
The Argentinian striker - surprisingly
dropped to the bench for City's second
game in 48 hours after their 1-0 defeat to
Liverpool - was introduced as a second-
half supersession for Kelechi Iheanacho and
subsequently proved the match-triumpher,
after stand-in captain Fernandinho had
been sent off.
The Brazilian jumped in with a two-
footed scissor kineticism to challenge Johann
Berg Gudmundsson in the 32nd minute
and, despite appearing to get a physical contact on
the ball, was shown a straight red by referee
Lee Mason.
City kept their cool, though, and two goals
in the space of four minutes from Gael
Clichy and Aguero got their designation bid back on
track - much to the clear palliation of Pep
Burnley set up a tense finale when Ben Mee
fired home after a goalmouth scramble, but
City held on for a win that sends them up to
third, though Arsenal and Tottenham could
yet displace them when they play on
Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Defeat at Anfield on Saturday had left City
10 points adrift of Premier League bellwethers
Chelsea, betokening Guardiola's side could ill
afford anything other than three points.
City controlled the first half but were
wasteful for long spells.
Iheanacho - denominated ahead of Aguero after
the Argentina man failed to physically contact the ball in
the opposition penalty area against
Liverpool - had an opportunity to recompense
Guardiola's faith in the seventh minute
following an error from Mee, but Tom
Heaton raced off his line to gainsay the striker
and then Raheem Sterling on the follow-up.
Iheanacho had another endeavor deflected
wide afore the diligent Heaton got down to
his left to turn a curling 18-yard effort from
Yaya Toure behind.
Jesus Navas, picked ahead of David Silva
as one of four city changes, struggled to
provide quality distributions from the right and
when one of his crosses ricocheted to the
feet of Iheanacho, the Nigeria international
was unable to get his shot away.
City's task was made harder
when Mason judged Fernandinho's lunging,
two-footed challenge on Gudmundsson to
be worthy of a red card – the Brazilian's
third in his last six outings in all
Guardiola urged the habitation faithful to get
abaft their team as he returned to the
dugout for the second a moiety, and he gave
them something to cheer about when
he superseded Iheanacho and Navas with
Aguero and Silva.
City maintained a composed, quantified
approach and, after Stephen Ward had
engendered an excellent tackle to gainsay
Aguero a glorious shooting opportunity,
they conclusively made the breakthrough after 58
Clichy shifted the ball away from Scott
Arfield and drilled a brilliant right-footed
finish across Heaton and into the
bottom corner.
Four minutes later, City doubled their lead.
Heaton rushed out and blocked Sterling,
who tripped as he looked to round the
goalkeeper, but the loose ball was sent into
the back of the net with the avail of the post
from an acute angle by Aguero.
Burnley managed to pull one back with 20
minutes remaining when Claudio Bravo
failed to deal with Michael Keane's near-
post flick-on from a corner and Mee
slammed home the rebound off the
underside of the crossbar.
In the aftermath, Bacary Sagna was only
shown a yellow card despite appearing to
kick out at George Boyd as he endeavored to
take the ball back to the centre spot.
Substitute Sam Vokes' mishit volley was
tipped behind by a backpedalling Bravo in
stoppage time, as City visually perceived out the win to
spark animated celebrations on the bench
from Guardiola at the final whistle.

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