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Haaland twin strike fires Man City to an opening win over Burnley

By Real11 - Aug 12 2023 224 Views
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Man City's Title Defense Commences with Convincing Win Against Burnley

Ahead of Manchester City's clash with Burnley, Pep Guardiola tried to manage expectations, emphasising the challenges his treble-winning team might face at the start of the new season. However, Erling Haaland seemed oblivious to his manager's cautionary approach. The Norwegian striker wasted no time, finding the back of the net just four minutes into the Premier League's opening night. By halftime, he had already secured a brace, and he exited the field in the 80th minute with City comfortably leading 3-0.

Haaland's trend of scoring opening-day braces continued, marking his fourth consecutive season accomplishing this feat—twice with Borussia Dortmund and now twice with City. The consistency of this performance should no longer catch anyone off guard, especially after he failed to score in the Community Shield match.

Guardiola commented, "It was deja vu... Last season, against Liverpool in the Community Shield, he didn't score, and then against West Ham in the first league game, he scored two goals. Today was quite similar."

Guardiola had hinted at his team's possible underpreparedness before the Turf Moor trip, but despite this, City remains a formidable force, and Haaland continues to prove himself as the league's most potent centre-forward. His remarkable tally of 52 goals in 54 games last season, including 36 in 35 Premier League matches, raises expectations that he could surpass this record. Guardiola might consider it "impossible," but doubting City's chances of securing another treble would be unwise, as they are already favourites across the board.

Guardiola acknowledged the challenge of facing a promoted side, stating, "To come here to a newly promoted side is always so tricky... They give everything, but we were fortunate to find a goal so quick. We started well."

City did face some setbacks during the match. Rúben Dias was sidelined due to concussion, and Kevin De Bruyne had to leave the field with an injury in the first half. However, despite these hurdles, City navigated the game against the newly-promoted Burnley with minimal difficulty. Even the highly-priced defender Josko Gvardiol, recently acquired from RB Leipzig, only played the final 12 minutes.

Although Burnley had their moments, even getting a substitute sent off in stoppage time, Haaland's prowess overshadowed their efforts. Burnley, led by Vincent Kompany, displayed potential with their youngest-ever Premier League starting XI, featuring an average age of 23 years and 206 days, alongside five new signings. Kompany's hope is that these young talents will rise to the challenge of maintaining their top-flight status.

Haaland's performance stood out remarkably, with two goals in just 35 minutes, including a splendid left-footed finish into the top corner. Guardiola, however, was not completely satisfied, as he engaged in a heated exchange with Haaland as they walked off at halftime. Guardiola later explained, "Erling wanted the ball immediately and Bernardo [Silva] didn't give it. I understand Erling, he wants the ball, but Bernardo made the right decision."

The final whistle saw Rodri seal the victory with a close-range goal in the second half. Guardiola admitted, "We are still away from the best form."

While this dominant start is ominous for their competitors, City's vulnerability typically surfaces at this point in the season. Accustomed to finishing strongly rather than starting as frontrunners, City dropped seven points in their first 10 games last season, the same number they dropped in their final 17 games, including a draw and a defeat when they had already secured the title.

The upcoming match against Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium on August 19 will provide a better indication of City's current form. Nonetheless, their commanding start sends a clear signal to the league as the champions, along with their star striker Haaland, assert their intentions.

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