Alvarez nets twice on birthday as Man City beat Burnley

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Erling Haaland was upstaged on his return from injury by fellow striker Julian Alvarez as Manchester City strolled to victory against Burnley.

Haaland made his first appearance since fracturing his foot in the defeat at Aston Villa on 6 December when he was introduced as a 71st-minute substitute at Etihad Stadium.

However, while the Norwegian’s major involvement was to draw laughs from team-mates Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic on the bench when he mis-kicked what was intended to be a shot on the turn, Alvarez turned 24 in style.

The Argentine took man-of-the-match honours by becoming just the 10th player to score two goals or more on their birthday in a Premier League game.

Both efforts came in the opening period. Matheus Nunes chipped a superb cross into the six-yard box for Alvarez to head home in the 16th minute.

And just six minutes later, Alvarez profited from a brilliantly worked training ground free-kick routine as Kevin de Bruyne shaped to curl a cross into the box but instead rolled a perfect 20-yard pass which just needed the first-time finish.

Rodri added a third in trademark fashion in the opening minute of the second-half, driving home Phil Foden’s cut-back from the edge of the area.

Burnley boss, and former City captain, Vincent Kompany would have been pleased with the way his side kept battling until the end.

They were at least able to grab an injury-time consolation as defender Ameen Al-Dakhil bundled in their first goal in seven visits to this stadium since 2018.

They were ultimately powerless, though, to stop second-placed City’s eighth successive win all competitions and 13th consecutive victory against Burnley.

The result allows Pep Guardiola’s side to keep pace with Liverpool and Arsenal in their chase for an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title – and keeps second-bottom Burnley mired in relegation trouble, with only three victories all season.

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