Erling Haaland was back in the old routine with a devastating display of finishing as Manchester City opened the defence of their Premier League title with a comfortable victory at Burnley.
The goalscoring phenomenon, who hit 52 goals as City won the Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League last season, took only 185 seconds to open his account for the new campaign, striking a blow from which the newly promoted Clarets never recovered.
Haaland pounced in the area when Rodri headed down Kevin de Bruyne’s cross, then curled in a magnificent left-foot strike into the top corner beyond Burnley keeper James Trafford after 36 minutes to effectively end the contest.
Burnley, roared on by a passionate home crowd, never gave up but City’s control grew more emphatic as the game went on, Rodri turning home the third with 15 minutes left after the home defence failed to clear a free-kick.
It all ended very comfortably for City, their night only marred by another injury for De Bruyne, who limped off after only 23 minutes to be replaced by summer signing Mateo Kovacic.
Burnley had Anass Zaroury sent off in injury time, after a the video assistant referee review, for a dangerous lunge on Kyle Walker.
Man City have just too much
Manchester City showed inevitable signs of rust even though they started their campaign with a win – as was proved by the animated behaviour of perfectionist manager Pep Guardiola.
If goal machine Haaland was expecting a congratulatory arm around the shoulder from his manager as he walked off at half-time, he received a rude awakening when he received an intense lecture from Guardiola, who demanded a cameraman move out of range as he spoke to the striker.
He clearly wanted even more from Haaland, who showed his lethal economy by scoring twice from only six touches in the first half.
It sounds ludicrous to suggest Haaland was often on the periphery of the action but such is his brilliance in front of goal that he still makes the decisive contribution and built the platform for what turned into a routine victory for the champions.
Kovacic slipped smoothly into the action as replacement for De Bruyne but the Belgian’s recurring injury problems will be a real source of concern for Guardiola and City. He spent the summer recovering from the serious hamstring injury that forced him out of the Champions League final win over Inter Milan after only 36 minutes and looked crestfallen as he walked off here.
City will hope the injury to such a key player, who had already created the opening goal for Haaland, is not serious – as the rest of their opening Premier League night played out satisfactorily.