Manchester City 6-0 Burnley: Erling Haaland nets ANOTHER hat-trick as hosts secure semi-final spot
Vincent Kompany had been telling us all week to ignore Pep Guardiola’s flower bouquets, the Catalan’s siren voice hinting that the Burnley manager was so talented he would inevitably coach Manchester City sooner or later.
Kompnay appreciated that he was too, too young, suspecting it might be a case of drowning in praise before being forced to fight for lifeboats.
After all, Kompany has been in enough Manchester City sides and said goodbye to enough suitors at the Etihad to know what’s likely to come in store for him.
But then Burnley are a phenomenon in The Championship, escaping with the league and as such it felt like intriguing competition with the added twist of apprentice Kompany taking on his teacher Guardiola.
Craig Bellamy, Kompany’s assistant, had suggested before the game that a statue of Johan Cruyff, Guardiola’s mentor, should be erected at Burnley’s training ground, so great has been his influence on his style of play.
Manchester City are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup after comfortable victory over Burnley
Erling Haaland raised his season tally to 42 after scoring another hat-trick
Burnley boss and city legend Vincent Kompany endured a nightmare return to the Etihad
And when Burnley, the last bastion of English football, has surrendered to Guardiola’s way of playing, it feels like it has the meaning of the Fall of Constantinople.
Kompany pulled the part to perfection: a skintight black suit, white T-shirt and baseball cap is quite the European coach look. In fact, he shared a hug with Guardiola before the game and the Etihad warmly welcomed him as if it were his home.
Man City (3-2-4-1): Ortega, Dias, Walker, Laporte, Rodri (Phillips 66′), Álvarez, De Bruyne (Grealish 89′), Lewis (Gómez 66′), Foden, Haaland (Palmer 63 ‘ ‘), Mahrez
Unused Substitutes: Stones, Ake, Gundogan, Ederson
Top scorers: Haaland (32, 35, 59), Álvarez (62, 73) Palmer (68)
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Burnley (4-2-3-1): Peacock-Farrell, Roberts, Al Dakhil, Beyer, Maatsen (Taylor 77′), Cullen, Gudmundsson (Cork 45′), Tella (Obafemi 64′), Da Silva (Bastien 77 ‘), Zaroury, Foster (Barnes 45’)
Unused substitutes: Twine, Manuel, Dervisoglu, Muric
Manager: Vincent Kompany
Referee: John Brooks
The twist was that he played a version of 4-4-2 here, though not as you or Sean Dyche would know, with the full-backs pushing into midfield and the wingers helping when the centre-backs pushed into creative attacking positions.
And for 32 minutes, his team looked pretty good too, matching City on wacky positional plays and off-the-ball runs and even producing a dangerous moment when Nathan Tella forced Stefan Ortgea into a great save. And when Jordan Beyer slipped in a beautiful ball for Tella in the 28th minute it took an excellent tackle from Ruben Dias to save the day.
And then they met the monster that is Erling Haaland. There is no shame in submitting to him. Not many tactical plans survive contact with the Norwegian. After all, one of the best in the Bundesliga had capitulated earlier in the week, conceding seven. As such. Burnley can be pleased to have done better than RB Leipzig.
Here Haaland took his total for the week to nine goals and 42 for the season. Reader, it is the middle of March. No one alive has ever seen anything like it.
Naturally it didn’t help Burnley that their bold positional reinterpretation of English football meant their center half decided not to follow him, as Ameen Al-Dakhill did here after attempting a header on 32 minutes.
There are interesting mavericks who take on the role of center half in modern football, but not earning a header and then standing around while the most prolific striker in world football goes on a follow-up career isn’t among them. Especially when the ball has fallen into the hands of World Cup winner Julián Álvarez, who has passed through the kind of ball that Haaland simply devours. Running towards him, even his finishing was exquisite, delaying his striker until goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farnell had committed and then pushing him past him.
Julián Álvarez came into action with a brace against the Championship leaders
Kevin De Bruyne was at his best against Burnley after contributing two assists
A full time-out followed by Kompany and as City celebrated. Burnley had presumably planned this moment, as the moment the ball hit the net, everyone rushed to the bench for instructions from the manager.
What wasn’t in the playbook was conceding a second to Haaland three minutes later. This time it was the brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden that provided the assist, De Bruyne’s ball inside right-back Connor Roberts was simply impossible to defend against, followed by Foden rolling his cross into Haaland’s path for the 2- 0. Haaland celebrated by pointing to Foden, passing the credit, but he could just as well have pointed to De Bruyne.
Approaching half time, Kompany made substitutions as Ashley Barnes and Jack Cork came on, but now it felt like it was all a bit pointless. That’s how it turned out. Foden was buzzing around like the best kid on the playground, showing off, taking on players at will. He sped up and past his man in the 60th minute, saved his shot, only to see it bounce off the post. It doesn’t matter. Guess who was there, swinging perfectly timed first time and nailing the rebound? This was Haaland’s sixth hat-trick of the season.
Three minutes later, Riyad Mahrez found De Bruyne and Álvarez finished off the incisive play for 4-0. If it was cricket, CIty would have declared and if it was boxing, Kompany would have thrown in the towel. As it was, Guardiola did the only decent thing and took Haaland out.
However, even that couldn’t stop the goal excess. By now Burnley were completely demoralized, drenched as the rain swirled around the Etihad and, frankly, had abandoned any clear sense of tactical discipline. That was how Cole Palmer, Haaland’s 20-year-old replacement, would find himself with a clear chance to make it 5-0 on 67 minutes after Peacock-Farrell deflected Foden’s cross into his path. Of course he took it.
De Bruyne, who would have been man of the match but for the amazing Norwegian, was simply in his element, conceding time and space in midfield. That’s an awkward combination for any team facing City and there was something symbolic about the sixth goal, with the Belgian simply playing one of those delicious balls through a patchy Burnley midfield for Álvarez.
There is nothing the Argentinian loves more than to run towards goal and as he spun and spun poor Al-Dakhill landed on his back. As such, it was easy for Álvarez to make it 6-0. Mercy to Burnley is that they stopped there.