MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola said his forward players have to score more goals after ending a recent drought with a 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League.
Riyad Mahrez scored a hattrick, while Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres bagged their first Premier League goals as City eased to within six points of league leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.
Guardiola’s men had scored just seven goals in their previous seven league games to slip to 14th in the table before kickoff.
“We have to score, that’s why they are here and play up front,” said Guardiola.
“Especially for Riyad. Gabriel (Jesus) has to score, (Raheem) Sterling when he plays has to score goals.
“The most important thing now is we have almost 21 players fit; this is important.”
Mahrez was one of four changes Guardiola made from a 1-0 win at Olympiakos in midweek that booked City’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and he took the most of his chance to start with Sterling left on the bench.
The Algerian opened the floodgates on six minutes as he swept home Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
Mahrez then outwitted a sleeping Burnley defence as he latched onto Kyle Walker’s throw-in before dancing round three challenges and firing in off the far post.
De Bruyne was handed a rare rest in midweek and the Belgian was back to his best with another assist for Benjamin Mendy to score his first City goal over three years since arriving from Monaco.
The French leftback produced an exquisite finish by cushioning De Bruyne’s cross back across Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who had a Premier League debut to forget in the absence of England international Nick Pope.
After City’s struggles to score goals in recent weeks, the hosts made sure to cash in after the break rather than saving their energies for a hectic upcoming schedule.
Torres has been prolific in the Champions League since his signing from Valencia, but the Spanish international finally opened his Premier League account with a smart finish from Gabriel Jesus’s lay-off.
Torres was then replaced by Phil Foden and with his first touch Foden was the provider for Mahrez to complete his hattrick in uncharacteristic fashion with a bullet header at the back post.
“Probably the last one (was my favourite) because I don’t score too many with my head,” said Mahrez.
“Of course when you play in front and don’t score you have a bit of frustration but we had to keep working, training to get the confidence back.”
VAR came to Peacock-Farrell’s rescue after he turned the ball into his own net after a fine save to deny Jesus, with the goal ruled out for offside against the Brazilian striker.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was angry at his side’s display as they were beaten 5-0 for the fourth straight visit to the Etihad.
“We didn’t turn up,” said Dyche.
“You are still looking for a performance. We didn’t get that in the first half. You can’t let these get their noses in front.”