Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City thrashed Burnley 5-0 at an empty Etihad to ensure Liverpool will not be able to clinch the Premier League title when they face Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez scored twice, while David Silva grabbed what could prove his final City goal to cut the gap at the top to 20 points.
A bad night for Burnley on the field was compounded by a banner flown over the stadium at the start of the match reading: “White lives matter Burnley”.
Black Lives Matter was printed on the back of all shirts for the first 12 matches of the Premier League restart.
Players, coaches and referees have also taken a knee before kick-off in every match to show their support for the fight against racial injustice.
In a statement, Burnley said: “Those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor. This, in no way, represents what Burnley Football Club stands for.”
The disparity of resources between the sides was shown even before kick-off as Burnley boss Sean Dyche could not even fill his bench, while Pep Guardiola was able to make eight changes from a 3-0 win over Arsenal on Wednesday.
Dyche has been left frustrated by the Burnley board’s refusal to extend contracts of five players who are out of contract at the end of the month.
Injuries to Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood and Johann Berg Gudmundsson meant Dyche could name just seven of a possible nine substitutes.
Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were among those kept in reserve for City’s trip to Chelsea on Thursday.
– Foden shines as Sane returns –
Foden made the most of his chance to start as the 20-year-old opened the floodgates with a sweet strike from outside the box.
Mahrez then killed the game as a contest before half-time as the Algerian left Charlie Taylor trailing on the floor before firing into the far corner on his weaker right foot.
VAR awarded Mahrez the chance to double his tally from the penalty spot after Ben Mee caught Sergio Aguero, forcing the Argentine striker off injured.
Retaining their Premier League title may be beyond City, but Guardiola’s men still have the chance to add the FA Cup and Champions League to the League Cup they won in March.
The fierce competition for places appears to be having an effect as there was no let-up after the break.
Bernardo Silva’s low cross was turned home by his namesake David for the hosts’ fourth.
Foden then rounded off the scoring at the far post after Gabriel Jesus failed to convert David Silva’s cross.
There was another positive for City as Leroy Sane replaced Foden for the final 10 minutes to make his first appearance since suffering cruciate knee ligament damage in August.
The German international seems certain to leave the club at the end of the season after rejecting a new contract amid interest from Bayern Munich.
But Sane could still have a part to play in City’s quest for a cup treble before the end of the campaign.