Manchester City booked passage to the FA Cup 5th Round with an win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park today. This was the second consecutive round in which City were handed what looked, on paper, like a tricky away tie against top-flight opposition. Again though, just like when Pep’s men dismantled West Ham in the last round, City took apart Palace with relative ease.
Gabriel Jesus started his first game in blue, while captain Vincent Kompany returned at the same location where he suffered his latest injury. There was also a start for Fabian Delph, while Sergio Agüero was absent due to a ‘minor knock’ and Kelechi Iheanacho didn’t even make the bench for ‘tactical reasons’ when many expected him to start.
With no television coverage whatsoever, thousands of City fans watched the game on Periscope, as two away dayers (we owe you drinks, Josh and Samuel!) streamed it through the live video app. What next, camera drones above stadiums? The wonders of modern technology, eh!
City had chances early on and should have led in the opening minutes when Leroy Sané squandered a header. Yaya Touré fed David Silva with a lovely pass soon after, but the silky Spaniard had his shot well saved by Hennessey. Aleks Kolarov also sent a shot high over the bar as half-time approached. And so a familiar pattern began to emerge, with City bossing possession but not taking their chances. This has come back to haunt us repeatedly this season, but thankfully there was to be no sucker-punch today.
With just a couple of minutes remaining in the first half, Gabriel Jesus sent an exquisite pass through to Raheem Sterling, who made no mistake. It was a lovely assist by the Brazilian and showed just how talented this kid is – he has goals in him, but is also a playmaker.
Bola do JESUS.. Gol Sterling pic.twitter.com/5l2WmMU96A
— Felipe Do DivididaFC (@BlogDivididaFC) January 28, 2017
Gabriel Jesus had been quiet until his assist, but great players come to life even when they’ve not been having their best day. He almost made it 2-0 before the break, but former City youth goalkeeper Hennessey made another good save.
The second half meandered along as the heavens opened and a ferocious hailstorm battered Selhurst Park, with City rarely looking in danger of losing their lead. But given our defensive record this season, it was hard not to be a little worried, and Leroy Sané’s goal in the 71st minute came as a relief. David Silva, City’s best performer on the day, played the German through and he could hardly miss. Following a slow start to life at the Etihad, Sané is now in excellent form and looks like a real sensation.
Leroy Sané has scored three goals in his last three appearances for Manchester City (vs. Arsenal, Spurs, Palace).
Star in the making? pic.twitter.com/wnPw45BXPH
— City Watch (@City_Watch) January 28, 2017
Gabriel Jesus could have had his first City goal as he rounded Hennessey, but he lost his footing just as he was about to pull the trigger. It was a lively performance by the 19-year-old, who never stopped running and appeared to suffer a bout of cramp in the closing stages of the game. He has all the attributes that Pep Guardiola admires in a striker and if the boss decides to utilise him as a centre-forward, Sergio Agüero could be in for the fight of his life.
The Seleção striker was hacked down in injury time after showing off some lovely footwork, giving City a free kick close to the box. And Yaya Touré, who was impressive on the day, sent an absolute beauty of a strike into the top corner to wrap up an comprehensive win for the Blues.
I got Yaya Toure free kick on timee⚽️ palace 0, Man City 3 pic.twitter.com/fLxxzpsI9W
— JT RAMIRO☝️️✨ (@jt_ramiro) January 28, 2017
A special mention to Vincent Kompany, who was back marshalling the defence in front of Willy Caballero. The skipper’s return led to a rare clean sheet and we can only hope the Belgian can play more football in the second half of the season.
All in all, this was a good performance on the road and puts City just two wins away from an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Given the nature of our cup draws lately, Chelsea or Spurs away would be no surprise in the 5th Round, but a tie like Blackburn away would be hugely appealing.