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Gundogan hails super Sergio as City show their class

Man City 4 Burnley 1

By Andy Hampson

Ilkay Gundogan hailed the brilliance of Manchester City team-mate Sergio Aguero after the pair combined to turn around their FA Cup tie against Burnley.

Aguero struck twice in the space of two minutes to spark a comeback that saw City recover from a goal down to power into the fourth round with a 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Both Aguero goals were set up by Gundogan, the first with a quickly-taken free-kick after 56 minutes and the second from an exquisite back-heel soon after the subsequent restart.

Burnley complained when the equaliser was allowed to stand, as they were not organised for the set-piece when Gundogan fed Aguero's run across the box, but referee Graham Scott saw nothing untoward.

Gundogan said: "It was a free-kick and the referee didn't tell me to wait.

"I had some eye contact with Sergio. I know that he likes to use these kind of situations to play quick. As soon as we had the contact I was sure he was going to make the run, so I just had to play the pass.

"Fortunately it was allowed and I think it was also correct. We just reacted quicker than our opponents."

Aguero started the move that led to his second. The Argentinian found Gundogan in the box and then continued his run. Gundogan read his intentions and back-heeled into his path for a clinical finish.

"The timing was just perfect," said midfielder Gundogan. "Sergio passed the ball to me and I just had to save it. I was waiting for the run and Sergio was just at the right time in the right spot. I was quite sure this ball was going through.

"Luckily both actions were a goal and 2-1 was very important at that point. After that, we had all our confidence back, started to keep the ball and play very well.

"We scored two more goals and we are very happy with the result."

City's performance will ensure talk of a quadruple bid grows louder. Their response in the second half after falling behind to Ashley Barnes' thunderous 25th-minute strike was emphatic.

Gundogan said: "We conceded a goal that was maybe not necessary but at half-time the manager told us he was not unhappy with the first half.

"We just needed to continue and be more clinical in front of the goal. Then he was sure we were going to go through this round and, as most of the time, he was right."

Despite the result, Burnley boss Sean Dyche felt his side's performance was another strong indicator of their progress this season.

He said: "We're at the end of our squad at the moment with injuries but, with the mentality today, you'd never have smelt that.

"Fifty-six minutes into the game, you'd have been thinking this is an organised team that knows how to play. That's really pleasing.

"You're not going to have to come to places like this every week. We've still got some big superpowers to play but I think our mentality is growing, not just the quality of our performances."

Meanwhile, Bristol City have vowed to face Manchester City with no fear in Tuesday's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.

Assistant coach Dean Holden has insisted the Ashton Gate outfit will quickly shake off Saturday's 3-0 FA Cup loss at Watford in time for their trip to the Etihad Stadium.

Bristol hope Korey Smith can be fit for Tuesday's last-four encounter, with the forward who bagged the late quarter-final winner over Manchester United in December nursing a shin complaint.

Holden hopes the Robins' coaches can forge future links with Pep Guardiola, but not before the visitors fight to put the Citizens to the sword.

"We're coming up against probably one of the best coaches there's ever been, and one of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen," said Holden of Guardiola and his Man City side.

"We're not quite sure what team they will put out, so we will prepare as best we can on our game.

"It's a very difficult night for us, but there's upsets all around the world every week.

"We know what we're up against, but we've got a lot of heart and we'll see what happens.

"It's difficult to hit back after a defeat like Saturday, because we're all gutted and hurting to be out of the FA Cup. But Tuesday will be incredible. We've got almost 8,000 supporters travelling up.

"We've already beaten Manchester United and proven anything can happen, so we'll go up there with a lot of heart."

Belfast Telegraph

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