Belfast Telegraph

Man City boss Pep Guardiola hails 'important' win at Burnley after tough week

Pep Guardiola praised his Manchester City team for adapting to the challenge of facing Burnley at Turf Moor and digging out a 2-1 victory.

Less than 72 hours after their draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League, a much-changed City side came from behind to claim three points that took them to the top of the table, for a few hours at least.

Guardiola joked Sergio Aguero's scrappy goals were "beautiful", with the Argentinian again City's hero despite playing through the pain of a minor foot problem.

Dean Marney gave Burnley a deserved lead with a brilliant 25-yard volley, his first Premier League goal for seven years, but Aguero equalised in the 37th minute and then netted the winner on the hour.

Guardiola said: "It was a tough week. Just two days after the Champions League to come here to play. We adapted quite well. Now we have one long week to prepare for Chelsea, Leicester, Watford and Arsenal.

"It's so important our win because it's so complicated to defend. You cannot press because it's long balls, they are taller than us. The second balls, they are really good these kind of teams.

"It's always complicated to control that in these kind of games. Hopefully in the future we can control them better."

Neither manager was happy with referee Andre Marriner.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche felt his side should have been given an early penalty for a push by Nicolas Otamendi on Jeff Hendrick, while Guardiola admitted he remains baffled by Premier League officiating.

The Catalan said: "I have to understand the referees, because still I don't understand. The same foul sometimes is and sometimes not. I'm not judging them, I never did in my life, but it's completely different than the other countries."

The result lifted City above Chelsea ahead of Antonio Conte's side's clash with Tottenham, setting the stage nicely for next weekend's meeting of the title favourites.

Guardiola added: "Important was the Crystal Palace game and the Burnley game. Now we are going to play against the best team right now in the Premier League.

"The last five or six weeks they've played amazing, clean sheets. With the way they play, we have to try to discover the secret, what we can do to beat them, and we have now seven days to prepare. Most of the players are tired."

Both Aguero's goals resulted from Burnley's failure to clear the ball from their own box, with the second coming after Ben Mee and Stephen Ward tackled each other.

But Dyche was happy with the performance and especially to see a positive reaction after Monday's 4-0 hammering at West Brom.

He said: "I'm disappointed in the goals from our point of view. But it can happen. They're doing what they're meant to do, putting their bodies on the line and getting blocks in.

"It's only the final moment where two of them clash. They're trying to do the right thing so I'm not going to hammer them for that.

"The first one was a poor goal. Two blips in a really good game. I thought the players delivered what I wanted them to deliver exceptionally well.

"We want to do the nuts and bolts and put teams out of kilter, and I thought we did that. And we created chances as well. A massively different performance from Monday night and of course we've got to take that on the road."

Dyche, meanwhile, insisted he had no qualms about throwing 37-year-old goalkeeper Paul Robinson into the team after Tom Heaton was ruled out by a calf injury suffered at West Brom.

It was Robinson's first Premier League appearance since May 2012 and his first senior game for more than two years but he did not show any rustiness and made one particularly fine save from Aguero.

"He's different class," Dyche said. "I see him in training every day. He's as lean and fit as he's ever been, he's mentally clear on what he needs to do and there's a calmness to him.

"His save in the first half is top drawer. Forget about age. It wasn't a major decision for me."


From Belfast Telegraph