Johann Berg Gudmundsson ensured Manchester City rued their profligacy with an 81st-minute half-volley that grabbed Burnley an impressive draw against the champions-elect.
Raheem Sterling was the visitor’s prime culprit missing a series of easy chances, the last of which came inches out of an open goal, moving Pep Guardiola to replace him for the final quarter.
Ilkay Gündogan, Sergio Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne were also guilty of the charge though given City’s lead the manager will hardly be concerned. He will also be happy that after leading a City chorus of complaints about dangerous tackles none were meted out here.
Guardiola had surprised may by naming six substitutes, his reasoning being that as seven players were ill or injured he did not have any more. This meant that despite the £200m spend on the City Football Academy Guardiola decided against taking an development squad player. It seemed odd as the experience gained of mixing with talents such as Agüero and De Bruyne would surely have been invaluable.
Sean Dyche made two changes from the midweek draw at Newcastle. Sam Vokes and Aaron Lennon – making a full debut – came in for Scott Arfield and Ashley Westwood. Guardiola brought in Vincent Kompany for Aymeric Laporte, Danilo for Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gündogan for the injured David Silva.
Danilo proved the sole City player whose radar was not awry. Midway through the first half, Bernardo Silva fed the left-back and he stepped inside and let fly a 20-yard scorcher that was always beating Nick Pope to his left, Burnley allowing the Brazilian space to work in.
At this stage, Burnley may have feared the kind of steamrollering City can hand out. Twice Agüero broke. First, he took the wrong option in shooting when Sterling was free. Then the Argentinian did feed the winger but his effort went straight at Pope.
As the half-hour passed Burnley finally troubled Ederson, the goalkeeper saving a Ben Mee effort. The home captain had the next chance, too, but he headed wide from a corner.
This succour for Burnley faded as City swept forward. Kevin Long was booked for a challenge on Gündogan and moments later De Bruyne was in prime position to pot City’s second but could only find Pope, with Agüero unable to slot the rebound home.
At the period’s close De Bruyne fashioned one of his specials: a curving right to left pass that sliced Burnley apart and landed at Agüero’s feet. The No 10 should have added a 25th goal of the season but got his feet wrong and the danger fizzled out.
Dyche brought Matthew Lowton on for Bardsley at half-time and the right-back had an immediate impact, pinging the ball towards Ashley Barnes, Kompany having to stoop to clear.
At the other end Lowton was saviour, too, his back ensuring Agüero’s attempt was deflected away. Three corners followed but there was no second City finish and Guardiola was later left fuming at Sterling sailing the ball high with the goal at his mercy.
Dyche surely felt the same when Danilo was again allowed time and acreage to let fly at Pope a shot that warmed his fingers.
Now came Sterling’s most glaring miss, putting the ball wide, and then from Lowton’s free-kick the Icelander Gudmundsson equalised, to leave City wondering what might have been.
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