Manchester City’s devastating attack was back to peak form against their old goalkeeper Joe Hart as a 5-0 victory over Burnley at the Etihad on Saturday returned Pep Guardiola’s side to the top of the Premier League.
After a rare goalless outing in their last league fixture, a draw at Liverpool, City’s win featured two goals in as many minutes early in the second half from Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho, adding to Sergio Aguero’s first-half effort, before Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane completed the rout.
There was yet more good news for City manager Guardiola when he re-introduced Kevin De Bruyne, out with a knee injury he suffered in the opening week of the season, to his line-up as a 58th minute substitute.
City took the lead in the 17th minute with Aguero continuing his remarkable run of goalscoring form at the Etihad.
David Silva and Sane carved out the opening with a couple of neat and precise one-twos that opened up space in the Burnley area for the former to cross towards the far post.
There, Aguero had made room to sweep in a routine finish from eight yards past former team-mate Hart – the forward’s 16th goal in his last 12 league appearances at City’s home ground.
Aguero should have doubled the lead in first-half injury-time, somehow clearing the cross-bar from six yards after Hart had saved superbly from a David Silva header.
But the result was put beyond any doubt with a blistering spell of City pressure that brought two goals in quick succession.
In the 54th minute, the hosts scored a slightly confusing goal, after Burnley players appeared to stop playing, waiting for a penalty to be awarded against them following contact between Sane and Jack Cork.
But referee Jonathan Moss waved play on and David Silva had the presence of mind to chip the ball back from the by-line for Bernardo to fire past Hart from 15 yards.
– Hero’s welcome for Hart –
Within a couple of minutes, former England goalkeeper Hart was again picking the ball out of his net, this time after Matt Lowton had only half cleared a Sane corner away from his near post.
The ball sat up invitingly for Fernandinho who struck a superb finish into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Mahrez, City’s record signing, curled in a delightful left-foot shot from just outside the area seven minutes from time, after a perceptive short through ball from Fernandinho, to add to the Burnley keeper’s miserable afternoon.
And Sane completed the scoring in the final minute with the most routine of finishes, knocking home Benjamin Mendy’s cross from the edge of the six-yard area.
At least Hart had the consolation of being afforded a hero’s welcome by his former club’s supporters before the game, receiving a standing ovation from the entire Etihad as he warmed up at one end of the ground before jogging to the other for the kick-off.
Hart enjoyed 12 eventful, and largely successful, years at the club, playing nearly 350 games and winning five trophies.
He reminded City fans of his ability with a stunning goal-line block from Aguero after 14 minutes when his the striker met a Mahrez cross with a close-range poke, and did likewise to thwart shots from Mahrez and Aguero, plus a Gabriel Jesus header, later in the game.