De Bruyne injury sours winning Premier League start for Man City

BURNLEY – Manchester City could be without Kevin De Bruyne for a number of weeks after he suffered the recurrence of a hamstring injury as the defending champions opened the Premier League season with a 3-0 win at Burnley on Friday.

Erling Haaland scored twice before Rodri completed the scoring to give City a perfect start to their quest to become the first side to win four consecutive English top-flight titles.

But the night was soured for Pep Guardiola’s men by the sight of De Bruyne limping off midway through the first-half.

The Belgian had suffered a hamstring tear in City’s Champions League final victory over Inter Milan two months ago.

“He was injured again unfortunately,” said Guardiola. “Same place and position as the Champions League and he will be out for a while.

“It depends on the magnitude but will be a few weeks out. He has to free (his) mind and relax because he came back from that position (previous injuries) and he will be back now.”

Burnley’s 2022/23 season finished over a month before City’s European Cup final win in Istanbul.

Guardiola has bemoaned his side’s short pre-season compared to their rivals, but they were quick out of the blocks.

“We are still not in our best (physical) form but we have to try to not drop many points in that period,” added Guardiola. “It’s a question of mentality and we were fortunate to break the game early.

“A lot of teams are going to suffer here, so that is why I am so pleased.”

Haaland fired City to the treble last season by scoring 52 times in his first year at the club.

The 23-year-old took just over three minutes of the new campaign to open his tally once more when he swept home Rodri’s header across goal after a well-worked corner between De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden.

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany has a statue outside City’s Etihad Stadium in honour of his decorated playing career with the English champions.

Kompany returned the Clarets back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and transformed Burnley’s playing style in the process during his first season in charge.

Despite the scoreline, the home side were far from outclassed but paid for the lack of a clinical finisher like Haaland.

Luca Koleosho and Zeki Amdouni missed good chances to equalise, while Amdouni also had a penalty appeal turned down.

“There were a lot of periods of the game where we did ourselves proud,” said Kompany.

However, they were hit with a sucker punch when Julian Alvarez laid off Kyle Walker’s cross into the path of Haaland to produce an unstoppable effort in off the underside of the bar nine minutes before half-time.

With the wind taken from Burnley’s sails, City took a stranglehold of the game after the break without ever having to hit top gear.

Rodri was the unlikely hero with the only goal in Istanbul two months ago and he started the new season as he finished the last by smashing home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.

Burnley’s miserable night was rounded off in stoppage time when Anass Zaroury was shown a straight red card for a wild challenge on Walker. – AFP