Pep Guardiola eventually saw his team coast through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, thanks to the peerless Sergio Aguero, but once again his touchline antics threatened to dominate proceedings.
The Manchester City manager issued a post-match apology after he was embroiled in an ugly touchline argument with opposite number Sean Dyche and the fourth official following City’s controversial 56th minute equaliser.
Ilkay Gundogan’s quickly-taken free-kick played Aguero clean through on goal and he made no mistake with a lethal finish past Nick Pope.
But, as Burnley players protested and chased referee Graham Scott, Guardiola made a “yapping” gesture with his hands and became engaged in a furious argument with Dyche before being told to stay in his technical area by fourth official Andy Haines.
FA Cup third round
“I am sorry, I apologise,” said Guardiola. “I didn’t want to get out of control. I said ‘Leave the referees please’. I have a lot of respect for what he [Dyche] does and the way he plays is completely different to how we want to play.
“But they do it perfectly and that is why football is top. I think all the managers around the world have to control. If they were offended, I am sorry.”
That incident was a rare moment of concern for Guardiola on an afternoon in which City responded magnificently to falling behind to Ashley Barnes’ first half goal.
Within 94 seconds of his opener, Aguero player a one-two with Gundogan, received a superb back-heel from the German and handed City a lead that was never in doubt thereafter.
“For me is an honour to coach a player like Aguero,” said Guardiola. “I understand that a player like him can feel sad in the moments when he doesn’t play.
“His quality is inside the box. In the first half maybe he was not involved a lot of time, but he has the ability to react and score two goals in the second half. That’s him, that’s how he is. If we want to win something this year, and the next, and the following years, Aguero’s presence is fundamental.”
Aguero had, as his manager noted, endured an unproductive first half although he was not alone as Burnley took a shock, but deserved, 24th minute lead.
It was the most direct goal imaginable as Sam Vokes rose to flick on a long punt forward from goalkeeper Pope.
There was ample opportunity for John Stones to clear the danger but the England defender completely miskicked his attempted clearance, allowing Barnes to sprint through on goal and beat Claudio Bravo with an accomplished finish from 15 yards.
But Aguero’s goals killed off any hopes of Burnley adding to their solitary FA Cup Final success in 1914 and it became an exercise in how many more City could score.
Sane should have netted his team’s third soon after, shooting over an open goal from six yards after Pope had blocked a Danilo shot. But the winger ensured City would have a comfortable passage into the fourth round after 70 minutes with another well-worked goal.
The German played another devastating one-two with David Silva, running through to receive the return pass before finishing impressively from a wide angle.
And, with eight minutes to go, Pope rushed from his area to try and beat Sane to a Kevin De Bruyne through ball, allowing the winger to round him and square for substitute Bernardo Silva to score into an open goal.
It was a harsh outcome for Dyche, who insisted after the defeat that there was nothing to his confrontation with Guardiola although he was angry about the decision to allow the City free-kick to be taken quickly.
“Not really,” said Dyche. “You both fight, you both want to win, you both want your teams to win. That’s how it should be. I believe everybody is allowed to be passionate.
“The referee said he didn’t have to blow the whistle, but Ashley Westwood was five yards away and the ball went through the gap where he should have been. Sometimes in football the rule may be the rule but there’s a common sense moment, we’ve just allowed it to be passed through. I’m bound to be aggrieved by that.”