Penalty controversy leaves sour taste

Sergio Aguero scored the resulting penalty
Sergio Aguero scored the resulting penalty
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George Boyd, scorer of the winning goal when Burnley beat Manchester City in 2015, was at the Etihad to cheer on his former teammates on Saturday as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

Dyche disappointed by penalty award

Burnley's unbeaten run on the road is ended by Premier League leaders Man City

The Clarets were the longest odds in Premier League history to repeat that feat – their only win over the Blues in their last 16 meetings, as the wideman’s skidding volley saw off the champions at Turf Moor.

Anyone who had a punt at 30/1 ultimately wasted their money, however.

But while no one is suggesting Sean Dyche’s side would have gone on to end the only unbeaten record in the top flight, had they not fallen behind to a controversial penalty just after the half hour, the turning point left a sour taste.

Burnley were comfortable in the game against a side described by Dyche as “the most fluid in Europe” on current form.

City had won 10 games on the spin as the top the league and their Champions League group, and had scored 29 goals in eight league games, the best top flight return since Everton bagged one more in 1894.

City never got close to hitting the heights they did in Tuesday’s win over Serie A leaders Napoli, and Burnley began to pose a threat of their own as they pressed the hosts, putting their high-risk possession game under pressure high up the pitch.

When David Silva threaded a typically majestic pass through to Kevin De Bruyne, however, the Clarets were stretched for the first time, and Nick Pope did well to save from the Belgian’s flick.

Matt Lowton should have cleared, succeeding only in hitting Bernardo Silva, and the Portugal forward nudged the ball past the keeper, before instigating the slightest of contact, and flicking his heels theatrically in the air.

You could question why Pope gave the referee a decision to make, with Silva’s touch taking him away from goal, and his knee did connect with the former Monaco man’s right ankle.

But Silva exaggerated the contact.

Roger East bought it, and after Burnley showed their disgust with Silva, Sergio Aguero stepped up to to score from the spot, and equal the City club record of Eric Brooks with 177 goals.

Before the season, the FA introduced a retrospective offence of “successful deception of a match official”, with a panel to review incidents and punish with a two-match ban.

That there was contact, however slight, may mean by the time you read this, Silva has walked away scot-free.

Contact doesn’t have to mean a foul – note Scott Arfield being caught by Ashley Williams at Everton three weeks ago, and earning a booking, rather than a penalty.

As it was, City continued to struggle for their usual flow against a typically well organised Burnley, though after Arfield had a shot deflected over – as Jack Cork stole the ball from De Bruyne from Ederson’s pass out – Pope denied Aguero the outright club record with a fine stop, and James Tarkowski made an incredible block from Bernardo Silva’s follow up, taking it full in the side of his head.

Burnley wanted a penalty of their own early in the second half, as Fabian Delph kicked the ball onto his own hand, clearly accidentally, though Cork was booked for his protests.

From Robbie Brady’s corner, Tarkowski looked set to make a telling contribution but couldn’t connect.

The Clarets continued to frustrate City, but with 17 minutes remaining, Pope saved from David Silva, and from Leroy Sane’s corner, Nicolas Otamendi got up early, pinning Ben Mee, and Steven Defour, on the post, couldn’t prevent his header creeping in.

Shortly after, with Burnley caught rarely out of their shape, Aguero’s flick allowed De Bruyne to release Sane with a perfectly-judged pass, and the German speedster did the rest.

Pope made a block from substitute Gabriel Jesus to prevent an undeserved fourth, and though Johann Berg Gudmundsson might have nicked a late consolation, Burnley’s unbeaten away record was ended. We may well have seen the champions – the only sides to avoid defeat by less than five goals at City this season are Everton, who drew 1-1, Shaktar Donetsk, Napoli, and the Clarets.