Manchester City 2-0 Burnley: Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne on target as Pep Guardiola's champions stay within touching distance of the top of the Premier League by beating dogged Clarets
A dazzling display by Bernardo Silva underlined why it's so tough for Pep Guardiola's more glamorous stars Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish to demand a starting place every week.
Sterling was selected on Saturday after complaining about a lack of game time and he huffed and puffed without reward, first as a false nine and then on the left.
But the highly-acclaimed England international wasn't the reason City claimed three points and nor was Jack Grealish who warmed the bench for 90 minutes. Instead, it was the unsung Bernardo who made the difference, scoring the opener after 12 minutes and remaining a constant threat to Burnley.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Man City (4-3-3): Steffen 7: Cancelo 6.5, Stones 6.5, Laporte 6 (Dias 72), Ake 6.5; De Bruyne 7 (Fernandinho 84), Rodri 7.5, Bernardo 8 (Palmer 90); Mahrez 6, Sterling 6, Foden 6.5
Subs not used: Carson (Gk), Walker, Gundogan, Grealish, Zinchenko, Slicker
Goals: Bernardo 12, De Bruyne 70
Burnley (4-3-3): Pope 6.5: Lowton 7, Tarkowski 7.5, Collins 6, Pieters 6; Brownhill 6.5, Cork 6 (Gudmundsson 72 6), Westwood 6, McNeil 7; Wood 6 (Rodriguez 82), Cornet 6 (Barnes 56 6)
Subs not used: Hennessey (Gk), Norris (Gk), Bardsley, Long, Gudmundsson, Roberts, Lennon
Referee: Martin Atkinson 6
He was ably assisted by Rodri who controlled midfield as if running the game by sat-nav and stood up to Burnley's aerial threat.
They are Guardiola's go-to men at the moment, leaving the likes of Sterling having to fight out for the remaining places.
'We are incredibly lucky to have Bernardo. He and Rodri are in incredible form,' purred Guardiola.
'His performances levels are extraordinary. Defensively, offensively, he is so intuitive with what he has to do. He never loses the ball and score a goal which is important for him.'
Bernardo got a standing ovation and a hug from his manager when he was taken off in injury-time but the little perfectionist was sore he couldn't provide an assist to a team-mate having scored himself.
'It is a joy for a manager,' said Guardiola, aware Sterling might be reading.
'He is always helping, trying to do his job. He is at his top level right now.'
City haven't conceded at home in the league this season. And though they couldn't repeat the 5-0 scoreline Burnley had suffered on their previous four visits, the result wasn't in doubt once captain-for-the-day Kevin De Bruyne had fired in a second goal after 70 minutes.
Burnley are still looking for their first win of the season and stay in the bottom three though their performance didn't resemble a side in the doldrums.
Maxwell Cornet had a glorious chance at 1-0 but was foiled by the onrushing Zack Steffen, who did a passable impression of the man he was deputising for, Ederson who spent last week on World Cup duty for Brazil.
The team news was dominated by Sterling being recalled by Guardiola for only his third Premier League start of the season.
De Bruyne wore the armband with Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan and Ruben Dias not starting and Burnley also had to change their leader with Ben Mee absent with Covid, James Tarkowski leading his side out.
An early goal is usually important in games like this and City took their chance following a patient build-up down the right which led to Bernardo teeing up Foden on the edge of the box.
The England international's strike failed to beat Pope but the goalkeeper only succeeded in pushing the ball out to Bernardo who gobbled up the rebound from three yards.
It was the Portuguese international's second league goal of the campaign having scored the winner at Leicester in September.
Burnley did well to keep themselves in the game with Pope blocking Joao Cancelo's volley in the midriff.
They were given an unexpected chance to level after 21 minutes when Dwight McNeil's pass saw Maxwel Cornet get in behind Cancelo.
But Steffen, in only his second league appearance for City, saved his team with a decent impression of Ederson, racing out and spreading his body to block the Cornet's shot with his chest.
The alarm showed the champions they needed a second goal despite their domination.
Mahrez blazed over with his left foot and Sterling was then denied by a block from Nathan Collins after meeting Mahrez's cross with an acrobatic volley.
Sterling was less convincing when De Bruyne found him on the left-angle of the penalty area and he miscontrolled.
The first half ended in heated fashion when Aymeric Laporte went in high on McNeil by the halfway line.
Burnley's Matt Lowton was particularly incensed with the way the Spaniard left the ground and remonstrated with a push though referee Martin Atkinson decided a yellow was sufficient punishment.
Guardiola switched Foden and Sterling for the second half. The reward was almost immediate when Sterling and Bernardo combined on the left to set up Mahrez whose rising shot clipped off the top of the crossbar.
Dyche sent on Ashley Barnes after 56 minutes and within seconds the forward had a chance in the box only to sidefoot weakly into Steffen's arms.
It was De Bruyne who grabbed the killer second. His initial shot was charged down but when Mahrez challenged Ashley Westwood in the box he didn't need a second invitation to unerringly fire into the top corner. VAR ruled no foul had been made on the Burnley player.
The Belgian barely showed a flicker of emotion but it would have meant a lot to him having been upset at coming so low in the 'captain's vote' the City dressing-room hold before every season.
Dyche was left cursing his luck after missing out again.
'There are signs the team is motivated but we have to take the high-quality chances we get,' he said.
'We didn't just come to wait and defend. There were moments we got in.
'Our two centre-halves (James Tarkowski and Nathan Collins) were outstanding, all good signs. I don't lack positivity but positivity alone doesn't win you games.'