Manchester City needed a helping hand from goal-line technology to secure a nervy 1-0 win over Burnley and stay in control of the Premier League title race on Sunday.
Sergio Aguero’s slightly scuffed shot after a goalmouth scramble in the 63rd minute was saved by Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, but the ball span behind him. Burnley right back Matthew Lowton stretched to hack the ball clear but it was adjudged to have been just over 29 millimeters past the line before being kicked out.
After a tense couple of seconds, referee Paul Tierney was told through his earpiece that a goal should be awarded, and City’s players and fans exploded in joy.
The win lifted City back above Liverpool and into a one-point lead. The defending champions will retain the title if they win their final two games, at home to Leicester and away to Brighton.
Liverpool’s remaining games are against Newcastle away and Wolverhampton Wanderers at home.
City’s squad of global superstars was faced with a quintessentially English setting as they looked to keep the initiative in the title race. Behind the quaint Turf Moor ground were rolling hills, rows of terraced houses and old cotton mills and rolling hills. A game of cricket was taking place on a patch of grass beside the stadium.
City was also coming up against a team well-versed in stout defending and a direct, route-one approach.
“We are Burnley, we’ll play how we want,” Burnley fans sang during the game.
It took City — playing its ninth game in 30 days — a while to get used to a slow, dry field and the champions’ build-up play was unusually ponderous at times in the first half when the Silvas, Bernardo and David, wasted good chances from close range.
It was a City siege in the second half, its passing much crisper and penetrative.
David Silva had a penalty shout turned down after Burnley striker Ashley Barnes appeared to handle the midfielder’s shot. Burnley center backs Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, sitting very deep, kept getting in the way of passes, crosses and shots.
The goal, when it came, was one of the scrappiest City has scored this season. Pep Guardiola won’t care and he sent on two center backs — John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi — in place of forwards for the final minutes to preserve the lead.