Emmanuel Adebayor celebrates with his team-mates after scoring City's fifth
By Les Roopanarine
Manchester City seized the initiative in the race for fourth place with a spectacular six-goal rout of Burnley.
In an extraordinary start to the game, Emmanuel Adebayor rifled in an Adam Johnson corner before Carlos Tevez fed Craig Bellamy for a slotted second.
A Tevez tap-in put City three ahead after just seven minutes, and Patrick Vieira then headed home a fourth.
Adebayor and Vincent Kompany stretched City's lead further, but a goal from Steven Fletcher avoided the whitewash.
As a statement of intent in the four-way joust with Tottenham, Liverpool and Aston Villa for the final Champions League spot, City's free-spirited exhibition of attacking football could not have been more emphatic.
Indeed the only threat posed to City came from the skies, with a torrential half-time downpour raising the very real possibility of the match being abandoned.
First six minutes were unacceptable - Laws
However the pitch remained just about playable for a City team clearly determined to reap maximum advantage from Tottenham's earlier defeat at Sunderland.
Roberto Mancini's men tore into Burnley from the outset with a ferocity bordering on the barbaric and by the time Adebayor's third-minute opener went in, Johnson had already shuddered the post with a low drive that took a deflection off Leon Cort.
Tevez hit the woodwork again later in the half, by which time City had scored four as well as squandered countless further chances.
But while the damage could undoubtedly have been even greater for Burnley - as if matching Oldham's 17-year-old record for racking up the fastest three-goal deficit in Premier League history was not bad enough - some perspective is necessary. Brian Laws' side were pitiful.
True, no one was expecting a defensive master-class from a team that went into the match having conceded more league goals than any other.
Yet the ease with which Burnley's back four was breached, time and again, bordered on the embarrassing.
The marking, or rather absence of it, for Adebayor's opener was a case in point, as was the freedom afforded Vieira when he got goal-side of Danny Fox to head home City's fourth from another Johnson corner.
Burnley keeper Brian Jensen was betrayed by poor handling for City's third, palming a low Adebayor effort into the path of Tevez, who was not about to decline a tap-in after his hat-trick against Wigan on Monday night.
On an afternoon when the incessant rain seemed to capture the sombre mood enveloping Turf Moor it was not the only occasion on which Jensen was caught out in such a manner.
But the increasingly slippery conditions had nothing to do with City's second goal, which came about when Kevin McDonald - nominally a holding midfielder - conceded possession cheaply in midfield.
Mancini praises team for remaining focused
Tevez slipped the ball through to Bellamy, and the livewire forward eluded the attentions of Cort and Michael Duff to slide a low shot across Jensen and into the far corner.
Arguably the pick of City's goals was the fifth, which came on the stroke of half-time when Tevez sent Adebayor racing through the middle with a through-ball of wonderful vision, though it was a goal that went unseen by many home fans who had long since left the ground.
The half-time introduction of Jack Cork, together with Wade Elliott, briefly seemed to galvanise Burnley, although it might just as easily have been an interval dressing-down from Laws, who cut a dismayed figure on the touchline.
David Nugent, who had earlier forced a fine one-handed save from Given with a close-range header, twice went close, but it was Fletcher who finally saved some face for Burnley.
Cutting in from the left, Fletcher lashed in from a tight angle in front of the watching Scotland manager Craig Levein.
By then, however, City had added to Burnley's ignominy with a sixth, Kompany getting in on the act with a thumping header from another Johnson corner.
Three points adrift of safety with five games left, Laws' side have it all to do if they are to recover from this mauling ahead of next Saturday's six-pointer against Hull.
As for City, their run-in includes testing home games against Manchester United, Aston Villa and Tottenham, as well as a trip to Arsenal. Tougher afternoons than this lie ahead.
Burnley manager Brian Laws:
"The first six minutes was extraordinary and embarrassing.
"It's not acceptable. If you give them time and space like that, Manchester City are going to hurt you - and they took maximum advantage.
"I gave them a right roasting at half-time, and laid down an objective to the players not to lose the second half.
"At least they did that. But the first six minutes killed it all, and all we can do is apologise and respond before we play Hull."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini:
"I am very happy because we played a good game.
"The weather was not good, and in the second half it was difficult to play football.
"If Emanuel Adebayor performs well then, with Carlos Tevez, we have good chances [to finish fourth].
"But we have six difficult games, and we must continue to improve in every game."
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