Argentine star, Sergio Aguero struck shortly after the hour mark to earn Manchester City a tense 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday afternoon that moves them to within two wins of retaining their Premier League title.
Victory for City, their 30th of the season, lifts them a point above Liverpool with games against Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion to come.
The Citizens struggled to get going throughout a quiet first half but they stepped things up right from the second-half kickoff, deservedly edging in front through Aguero’s shot that was awarded via goal-line technology.
City came close to scoring a second through Gabriel Jesus’s shot, stopped on the line by Ben Mee, but it was a nervy finale in Lancashire as they chucked on a fifth defender to hold on for all three points.
Pep Guardiola made an enforced change from his side’s 2-0 win over Manchester United in midweek, bringing in Leroy Sane for just a second start in seven Premier League matches in place of the injured Fernandinho.
Sane was responsible for one of the Citizens’ two attempts in the first half, testing Tom Heaton with a weak half-volley from just outside the box.
The only other effort came via Bernardo Silva, deployed in a deeper midfield position to compensate for Sane’s return, as he cut inside Charlie Taylor but could not get any power behind his near-post shot.
Burnley were happy to cede possession, ending the first half with 31% of the ball, yet the best chance in the opening 45 minutes fell their way.
Kyle Walker gave away possession just inside his own half and the hosts worked a three-on-three counter, but Chris Wood could not bring Jeff Hendrick’s through-ball under control and Ederson pounced.
Five of City’s last nine league matches have been goalless at half time, and within four minutes of the second half they already managed more on-target shots than in the whole of the first period.
Heaton produced good saves to keep out Aguero and Bernardo’s powerful shots, while Aymeric Laporte aimed his header too close to the England international when picked out by Oleksandr Zinchenko.
City then had a penalty shout rejected when Ashley Barnes leaned into Bernardo’s shot to block it in front of goal with his arm, which was not seen by the referee Paul Tierney.
That decision would not prove pivotal, though, as Aguero struck a deserved opener 63 minutes in to make it 20 Premier League goals in five successive campaigns.
Aguero held off James Tarkowski in the box and just about managed to scramble his shot over the line, despite the best efforts of Matt Lowton under the crossbar – goal-line technology being put to good use to confirm the whole of the ball crossed the whole of the line.
Goal-line technology worked against City 15 minutes later, however, as substitute Jesus’s shot was blocked on the line by Mee after he had done the hard work by cutting inside and rounding Heaton.
That came during a prolonged period of City possession, but the Citizens looked far from comfortable as the game entered its final 10 minutes.
John Stones was brought on for goalscorer Aguero to give the visitors’ backline some extra protection, and the Citizens safely navigated the remainder of the match without giving away any major chances, putting them on the brink of a fourth Premier League title.
BURNLEY (4-4-2): Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick (Gudmundsson 76′), Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Wood (Vydra 72′), Barnes.
MAN CITY (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, David Silva; Sterling (Otamendi 92′), Aguero (Stones 83′), Sane (Jesus 64′).