29th December 2001
2001 was coming to a close and City’s final game of an eventful year saw the blues entertaining league leaders Burnley at Maine Road. City had already beaten the Clarets 4-2 at Turf Moor at the end of August, but Burnley had rallied and forced their way to the top of the league.
The blues had suffered seven defeats prior ot the Burney game and sat in second place, four points behind their Lancashire rivals. It was City’s home record of 9 wins from 13 matches had set them in good stead for Burnley’s visit, and the visitors away record had brought them 22 points from a possible 36, winning 7 from 12 matches and losing four, and victory for the blues would put them within one point of the leaders.
And the first half would see City completely blow away their rivals, making a mockery of their top of the table status. It took the blues just 90 seconds to get on the scoresheet as Paolo Wanchope converted Shaun Goater’s cross to give City the lead.
Burnley had a golden opportunity to level the scores ten minutes later when Gerard Wiekens brought down Burnley’s Alan Moore in the penalty area, but City keeper Carlo Nash comfortably saved the spot kick.
Burnley tried to get back into the match, but City doubled the lead on 27 minutes. Ali Benarbia, who along with Eyal Berkovic had controlled the midfield, released Wanchope and the Costa Rican cooly finished to send City 2-0 up. Just 9 minutes later, City went 3-0 up as Wanchoep and Goater combined to set up Berkovic, who scored form the edge of the area.
And the blues compounded their dominance on the stroke of half time when Berkovic took advantage of some poor defending to set up Wanchope to complete his hat-trick and send City in 4-0 up at the break.
Burnley rallied in the second half and when City’s defence went AWOL on 60 minutes, Moore pulled a goal back for the visitors. It would prove to be scant consolation for the Lancashire side but frustrating for blues fans, who saw them team attack time and again with flourish and a cavalier approach, but a couldn’t care less attitude at the back.
City could have had more but settled for the one further strike from Darren Huckerby in injury time to crush the leaders and set up City’s assault on the league title in the New Year.
Final Score: Manchester City 5-1 Burnley