Adebayor double ensures City conquer and go fourth
Man City 6
Manchester City ran riot against palsied Burnley to climb above Tottenham into fourth place in the table, where they are now favourites for the final Champions League place -- the least the cash cow they call Sheikh Mansour was prepared to settle for this season.
Encouraged by Spurs' defeat at Sunderland, City seized the initiative from the kick-off and rattled in five goals before half-time against relegation ragbags who have won one game and lost 12 out of 14 under Brian Laws. There was a lot of water on the pitch, and a lot has flowed under the proverbial bridge since Burnley beat Manchester United and Everton in their first two home matches after Owen Coyle brought them up into the Premier League.
Saturday's trip to Hull may be the classic six-pointer, but on this evidence Laws and his journeymen are destined for an early return whence they came.
Carlos Tevez, whose hat-trick accounted for Wigan on Monday, added his 26th goal of the season with a tap-in, but was outscored by Emmanuel Adebayor, with two. The others came from Craig Bellamy, Patrick Vieira and Vincent Kompany. It was 6-0 before Steven Fletcher lifted the ball over the advancing Shay Given for a token reply after 72 minutes.
The outcome was settled before the match was seven minutes old, by which time City were three goals to the good, and the Burnley players, and their suffering supporters, were thoroughly demoralised. It cannot be too often that a home team are booed while latecomers are still filtering into the ground, but that is what happened here. After 20 minutes, at 4-0, some were already heading for the exits.
The result was scarcely a surprise, but the way of it will have jeopardised Laws' tenure. It was all the more distressing for the Claret-clad crowd after the encouragement provided by Hull's latest defeat in the relegation scrap, to Stoke, earlier yesterday.
On this showing, however, Burnley are beyond help. They have learned the hard way that in football, as in most things in life, you get what you pay for, and that it is false economy to recruit a manager on the cheap.
Laws may have played for Forest, but he has never pulled up any trees in management at Grimsby, Scunthorpe or Sheffield Wednesday, who sacked him in December. Doncaster's Sean O'Driscoll, who was also in the frame, would have been much the more progressive choice. Laws always seemed an uninspired replacement for Coyle, and the Burnley players have been duly uninspired.
They were dreadful here, their defence an embarrassing shambles from the start. City could hardly believe their luck. For them, it was like a training session, playing unopposed.
The first goal came after 66 seconds, Adebayor driving in from 12 yards after Adam Johnson's corner from the left had found Burnley's defenders awol. It was 2-0 in the fifth minute, when Tevez found Bellamy, who bisected Leon Cort and Michael Duff with ease before sliding the ball low, inside Brian Jensen's upright.
The third, in the seventh minute, was the product of a handling error by Jensen, who failed to hold Adebayor's shot, leaving Tevez with a tap-in.
After that, Burnley held out for all of 13 minutes before another Johnson corner was headed in firmly by Vieira, whose marker, Danny Fox, ducked obligingly at the crucial moment.
City scored added a fifth just before the interval, when a pass from Tevez took Burnley's back four out of the game, enabling Adebayor to run on unattended before beating the ludicrously unprotected Jensen with a crisp finish from 12 yards. Tevez had shivered a post, and it could easily have been far worse by half-time.
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.