Burnley 0-3 Manchester City: Erling Haaland double helps visitors begin Premier League title defence with win.
Manchester City launched their Premier League title defence with an easy victory at Burnley, thanks to Erling Haaland’s deadly finishing display.
The goalscoring superstar, who scored 52 goals as City won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League last season, required just 185 seconds to open his account for the new season, dealing the newly promoted Clarets a blow from which they never recovered.
When Rodri headed down Kevin de Bruyne’s cross, Haaland pounced in the area and curled in a stunning left-foot strike into the top corner beyond Burnley keeper James Trafford after 36 minutes to virtually end the game.
Burnley, roared on by a passionate home crowd, never gave up but City’s control grew more emphatic as the game went on, Rodri turning home the third with 15 minutes left after the home defence failed to clear a free-kick.
It all ended very comfortably for City, their night only marred by another injury for De Bruyne, who limped off after only 23 minutes to be replaced by summer signing Mateo Kovacic.
Anass Zaroury of Burnley was sent in stoppage time following a video assistant referee review for a dangerous lunge on Kyle Walker.
FULL-TIME | A win on the road to begin 2023/24 🙌
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 11, 2023
Manchester City displayed indications of rust despite starting the season with a win, as evidenced by the agitated behavior of fastidious manager Pep Guardiola.
If goal machine Haaland was expecting a congratulatory arm around the shoulder from his boss as he walked off the field at halftime, he was in for a harsh revelation when Guardiola insisted a cameraman move out of range as he spoke to the striker.
He definitely expected more from Haaland, who demonstrated his lethal economy by scoring twice in the first half on only six touches.
It may seem absurd to say that Haaland was frequently on the outside of the action, but such is his talent in front of goal that he still makes the critical contribution and laid the groundwork for what turned out to be an easy victory for the champs.
Kovacic stepped in seamlessly as a replacement for De Bruyne, but the Belgian’s repeated injury issues will be a source of concern for Guardiola and City. He spent the summer rehabilitating from a major hamstring injury that pulled him out of the Champions League final victory over Inter Milan after only 36 minutes, and he went off here looking dejected.
City will be hoping that the injury to such a vital player, who had already set up the opening goal for Haaland, is not serious, as the remainder of their inaugural Premier League night went well.