- Benjamin Wolfe
Man City are heading to Wembley for FA Cup semi-finals - Southampton 1-4 Manchester City Review
On the day Deloitte ranked Manchester City the richest club in the world by revenue (€644.9M), they progressed into the semi-finals of the FA Cup - where they will face the winner of Nottingham Forsest against Liverpool - courtesy of a 1-4 win. This is the fifth FA Cup semi in six seasons for Pep's lads. Goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez sealed the win, with Aymeric Laporte scoring at the wrong end.
Pep decided to go with a strong XI for today’s game, as he usually tends to do in cup competitions. Zack Steffen took his place between the posts with Kyle Walker, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo protecting him. Rodri anchored the midfield with Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne for company. The attacking line was Jack Grealish, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.
There was still no Ruben Dias yet, but the subs bench was Scott Carson, Nathan Ake, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden. Plenty of options for the manager to ignore.
Southampton started the game apparently with some point to prove, being aggressive and brave and pushing City high up the pitch. City on the flip side started a little slow and looked unprepared for a fight. Indeed, it was Southampton that nearly took the lead after ten minutes. A ball from Oriel Romeu opened up the City defence for Adam Armstrong but thankfully his effort hit the post.
The Saints would go on to regret that miss quickly as Jack Stephens failed to clear a cross from Kevin De Bruyne and the ball fell to Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian played a neat little ball into Raheem Sterling who put City ahead. This was the 28th time this season that City have scored the first goal in a game. Incredible.
Southampton continued to battle and fight, and it was by no means easy for Pep’s men who had a problem at times with keeping hold of possession. City were having to work to defend their lead more often than Pep would have liked. In the 24th minute Adam Armstrong let the visitors off the hook with a horrendous sliced shot from a dangerous position.
Of course, City are always dangerous themselves and Ilkay Gundogan was unlucky not to double the lead after some silky wing play from Joao Cancelo. The first-time effort rebounding off the post. Gabriel Jesus’s follow up attempt was then blocked.
Southampton’s battling performance paid off seconds before the half ended. Zack Steffen ran out into no mans land and Stuart Armstrong hit the ball into the open goal off the leg of Aymeric Laporte. Shambolic defending all around and the half ended level.
The second half started much the same as the first with the home side refusing to roll over and fighting City for every ball. Both sides continued to find half chances but eventually City’s quality would win out over the plucky Saints.
As the half went on City controlled the ball for longer and longer periods and after the hour mark, City had a penalty. Gabriel Jesus was brought down inside the box by Mohammed Salisu and Kevin De Bruyne dispatched the spot kick. City were ahead.
Pep Guardiola then decided he had a subs bench and swapped out Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish for Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. Almost immediately the Algerian winger had a chance to extend the lead but he mis-timed his volley.
Phil Foden though would add a third in the 75th minute with a cracking strike. The England star waited for the ball to bounce and smashed it inside the post on the half volley. Game over.
Just three minutes later and the second substitute would bag the fourth. Joao Cancelo put the outside of the foot pass he loves so much to good use and found Ilkay Gundogan. He brought the ball down and found Riyad Mahrez who gave the keeper the eyes and fired it into the near post bottom corner. Sublime football from City.
This is the 80th time City have scored 4+ goals under Pep Guardiola. The team in second place during this period has only 58 and is Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. Crazy!
City saw out the remaining minutes in comfort and secured their place in the semi finals once again. Up next is a trip to Burnley on Saturday April 2nd.
We need to have a talk about this. Zack Steffen was booked for timewasting after 71 minutes today. City up to that point had hardly wasted any time at all and for all you City fans out there who probably spend plenty of time screaming at officials at the Etihad letting teams time waste against us for 90 minutes it’s infuriating. What the hell is going on with this ‘one rule for us and one for them’ nonsense?
THE IMPACT OF SUBSTITUTIONS
I have been a critic of Pep’s lack of use of substitutions many times this season, especially for a coach so vocal about needing five of them in the Premier League. Look at the impact they can have on the game. Foden and Mahrez came into the game today and scored a goal each. It’s not that black and white of course but it confuses me that Pep didn’t even try one against Palace.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Nobody was particularly amazing for the whole 90 minutes, but I think Kevin De Bruyne deserves this one. He was good today, and at 1-1 with City in a tough spot, he was the player the others looked to to bury the penalty. Which he did. He’s still the best player we have, and the criticism he gets at times baffles me.
STEFFEN - 6
WALKER - 7
STONES - 6
LAPORTE - 5
CANCELO - 7
RODRI - 7
GUNDOGAN - 7
DE BRUYNE – 8.5
JESUS – 8
STERLING – 7
GREALISH – 6
Subs: Foden – 7, Mahrez – 7, Ake – 6, Fernandinho – 6, Zinchenko – 6
Written by: @CityReportBen
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