Manchester City began the defence of their Premier League title with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Turf Moor as Burnley endured a chastening return to the top flight.

City had won their previous 11 fixtures against Burnley by a combined score of 40-1, meaning their fourth-minute opener came as no surprise.

The identity of the scorer was no shock either, with Erling Haaland finding space among a crowded penalty area to sweep the ball into the bottom corner from Rodri’s headed pass.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner then rattled another first-time finish in off the bar in the 36th minute, with Rodri adding the third in the second half before Anass Zaroury received a straight red card after VAR review for an ugly tackle on Kyle Walker.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for City, who lost Kevin De Bruyne to another injury in the first half – with Guardiola conceding he perhaps shouldn’t have started the midfielder – but the ease at which they picked up the three points is an ominous sign for the rest of the Premier League.

Unfortunately he is injured again. He said to me it’s a problem in the same position as the Champions League. He recovered well but now we’ve lost him for a time. We have to reflect and talk to the doctors and the physios. He has to be relaxed, recover and come back. He was feeling really good.

Pep Guardiola on Kevin De Bruyne’s injury

How ruthless City exposed Burnley’s set-piece frailties

Rodri celebrates scoring Man City's third goal
Rodri celebrates scoring Man City’s third goal

Vincent Kompany warned before the visit of City – the club he captained to four Premier League titles as a player – that his side would be at their “worst” on the Premier League’s opening night.

With that in mind, a visit from the English and European champions was far from ideal, and a side including six debutants quickly found themselves behind as Haaland beat former City goalkeeper James Trafford when Rodri nodded down a corner.

Team news

  • Burnley handed debuts to James Trafford, Dara O’Shea, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Sander Berge, Zeki Amdouni and Luca Koleosho
  • Man City started Rico Lewis, Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden, while Jack Grealish was named on the bench
  • Ruben Dias and John Stones missed out through injury, while Joao Cancelo was left out of the squad

The England U21 goalkeeper was also powerless to prevent City’s second as Haaland swept Julian Alvarez’s pass into the top corner with an unerring finish.

Burnley had earlier seen a penalty claim waved away as Zeki Amdouni went down a little too easily under pressure from Manuel Akanji, while there was the unpleasant sight of Rico Lewis being struck by a lighter thrown from the crowd near the corner flag.

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Manchester City defender Rico Lewis appeared to be hit by a lighter thrown from the crowd at Turf Moor during their Premier League match against Burnley

City also had to cope with the loss of De Bruyne to injury but they hardly skipped a beat, with Mateo Kovacic calmly slotting into midfield as his new side began to toy with their prey.

Pep Guardiola and Haaland were then filmed in a heated discussion as they made their way towards the tunnel at half-time, with the manager seemingly unhappy at the striker’s on-field complaints.

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Watch the extraordinary confrontation between Man City boss Pep Guardiola and Erling Haaland at half-time at Burnley

But City regained their composure in the second half, dominating possession and controlling the game as Burnley began to chase shadows, while Rodri again exposed the Clarets’ vulnerability from set-pieces to guide home the visitors’ third from short range.

Burnley’s night then went from bad to worse as Zaroury saw a yellow card turn to red following a VAR review after he caught Walker on the calf with a rash sliding challenge.

Kompany now has two weeks to work with his side before they take on Aston Villa in their next game, while City will continue their relentless pursuit of silverware against Sevilla in the European Super Cup on Wednesday.

Kompany unhappy as fans boo players taking a knee

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Burnley manager Vincent Kompany said he was not happy with some spectators at Turf Moor appearing to boo as players kneeled before the match

Kompany insisted his side will improve as the season goes on, telling Sky Sports: “We had five guys who started their first game for the club and we had a guy who made his career debut.

“We had chances. We knew it was going to be tough.

“We have to take the positives from this game. You can’t feel good with a defeat but I’ve seen enough to show we’ve made progress since the last time we played. This team is only going to get stronger.”

Kompany also accepted he wasn’t happy with the supporters that booed as the players took a knee before kick-off, saying: “Let’s be honest, it’s not something new.

“Of course I can’t be happy with it – the colour of my skin should make clear why.

“The amount of people that booed is a lot less than it used to be and there’s a lot of people that clapped.

“I believe in time and working together. They are part of our family, no matter what, and we have to change the mentality.”

Pep: ‘No problem’ with Haaland

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Pep Guardiola said maybe he should not have started Kevin De Bruyne, who was substituted during Man City’s 3-0 win against Burnley due to injury

Guardiola played down any suggestions of a falling out with Haaland at full-time, telling Sky Sports: “We had to play more direct with Haaland and we showed that in the second half. He wants all the time, ball to him, ball to him.

“He was saying, ‘give it to me in behind, man to man and I’m going to do it’. But when you have two or three minutes left of the half… Kovacic and Rodri lost the ball.

“Bernardo [Silva] was then correct to not give him another ball. But it’s not a problem. He scored two goals and he’s really happy.”

Haaland conceded his manager was “a bit mad” at his complaints at his team-mates, telling Sky Sports: “It was because of the last action when Bernardo didn’t play me in – he [Pep] was a bit mad at me.

“Everyone sees I’m developing my game. I try my best every day.

“It’s a pleasure to work with Pep. I don’t know if there is anyone better for a young player as I’m still young, don’t forget. I just have to enjoy the chaos around me and perform on the pitch.”

Kovacic slots smoothly into City midfield

Mateo Kovacic
Mateo Kovacic came off the bench for his Man City Premier League debut

Mateo Kovacic is so up Pep Guardiola’s street that it’s a wonder the two haven’t worked together before. The midfielder possesses so many of the skills the manager loves – the ability to resist the press, pick a pass and adapt to various tactical demands.

While tougher tests than Burnley await, Kovacic’s Premier League debut for the champions was highly promising.

Slotting into a narrow midfield trio, he quietly racked up a pass-completion percentage of nearly 95 per cent – a number bettered only by the outstanding Rodri.

So smooth was Kovacic’s performance that City were barely affected by the loss of De Bruyne. Promising signs for the Croatian and his new boss.

Opta stats: Haaland reaches his ton

  • Haaland has now scored 100 goals in Europe’s top-five leagues (63 for Borussia Dortmund, 37 for Manchester City), with only Robert Lewandowski (114) netting more since the Norwegian’s debut in January 2020.
  • Haaland is only the second player to score 2+ goals in a team’s opening game of a Premier League season in consecutive campaigns (also two vs West Ham in 2022-23) after Didier Drogba in 2009-10 (two v Hull) and 2010-11 (three v West Brom) for Chelsea.
  • Rodri both scored and assisted in a game in the big five European leagues for the first time ever, in his 236th appearance.
  • Burnley have lost each of their last 12 meetings with Manchester City in all competitions, since a 1-1 draw in February 2018 in the Premier League. It’s now the Clarets’ outright longest losing streak against any side.

What’s next?

Burnley are not in action again until Sunday August 27, when they go to Aston Villa – kick-off 2pm.

Manchester City play Sevilla in the European Super Cup on Wednesday – kick-off 8pm – before hosting Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday – kick-off 8pm.