(Reuters) - Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho was sent off for the third time in his last six games but it did not stop them as Sergio Aguero came off the bench to score in a 2-1 Premier League home defeat of Burnley on Monday.
City’s hopes of closing the gap on leaders Chelsea took a knock in the 32nd minute when their Brazilian skipper Fernandinho got a straight red card for a reckless two-footed tackle on Icelandic midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
But Burnley, who have managed only one point on the road all season, were unable to assert themselves and City moved comfortably ahead with Gael Clichy and substitute Aguero scoring within four minutes of each other after the break.
Ben Mee’s reply meant some late jitters for City but Pep Guardiola’s side were rarely troubled as they moved above Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal into third - seven points adrift of Chelsea and two behind Liverpool, who drew at Sunderland.
“Ask the referee - not me. We’ll play without Fernandinho,” Guardiola said when asked about the red card that means a four-game ban for the midfielder, who was also dismissed against Chelsea and Borussia Moenchengladbach this season.
“We try to play football. I can’t control the circumstances. We wanted to win... When you play 10 against 11, sometimes you just defend but I wanted to make counter-attacks with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero and we did it.”
City, needing a quick response after defeat at title rivals Liverpool on Saturday, dominated possession in the first half but were struggling to break down Burnley’s packed defence.
They only began to carve open the visitors when Aguero and David Silva were introduced after the break.
After 58 minutes Clichy, who had scored only once in more than 100 league appearances for City, cut in from the left and delivered a low shot that crept inside Tom Heaton’s far post.
Aguero doubled City’s lead with a fine finish from a tight angle four minutes later after Raheem Sterling had fallen over trying to round Heaton and the chance seemed to have been lost.
The Argentina striker, who returned from suspension against Liverpool, now has 11 league goals this season.
“Sergio helps a lot, mostly scoring goals,” Guardiola said. “He played 90 minutes after four games out and I did not consider him playing 90 minutes again after two days.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris