MAN CITY 4, FULHAM 0
Manchester City could not have had an easier passage to the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup after Fulham had captain Tim Ream sent off in the sixth minute.
It effectively ended the contest at that early juncture for the Championship club who were away at the Premier League champions.
City scored two early goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva to effectively seal victory while Gabriel Jesus scored a double late in the game as the 10 men tired.Embed from Getty Images
Pep Guardiola admitted Ream’s dismissal was pivotal.
City’s manager said: “After one or two minutes I felt it would be difficult the way Fulham set up and they played with a lot of courage.
“After the red card it was a different game and difficult to analyse when in it is 10 versus 11.
“Had it remained 11 v 11 it would have been a tough, tough game but with 10 v 11 and after scoring two early goals it was easy.
“It was good preparation for the next round and n ow we have three days to prepare against United (semi-final of the Carabao Cup).”
Scott Parker, manager of injury-hit Fulham who had four forwards on the sidelines including Aleksandar Mitrovic and Anthony Knockaert, described it as one of his proudest moments the way his 10 men battled.
He said: “We understood the challenge of playing a world-class team.
“The teamwork and preparation of the last few days went out of the window in the sixth minute.
“It would have been hard with 11 men but with 10 it was even more difficult.
“I have been in the job for one year and it is probably the proudest I have been because the challenge we faced was massive.
“I asked the team to be brave and show personality and you saw that in abundance which was the most pleasing thing.”
It was all change for City with Nicolas Otamendi, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus the only three survivors from the side that started at Sheffield United in midweek.
Guardiola had plenty in reserve as the bench comprised Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodrigo, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ederson.
There was a dramatic start to the game when Fulham had Ream sent off in the sixth minute for hauling back Jesus who had been put clean through by Gundogan who scored from the spot, his fifth goal of the season.
It was a nightmare start for the Championship club to be at a numerical disadvantage so early in the game.
And it would have been 2-0 not long after but for a smart save by Marek Rodak to push away Mahrez’s shot which was arrowing towards the bottom corner.
It was merely delaying the inevitable as City doubled their advantage in the 19th minute through Bernardo Silva’s seventh of the season.
Foden provided the assist and Bernardo Silva produced a delightful twist and turn to fashion an opening before firing low past Rodak from 20 yards.
It was City’s 100th goal in all competitions, the first team to achieve that this season in Europe’s top five leagues. And it was the seventh season in a row that have chalked up a century.
City made their first change in the 53rd minute when Mahrez made way for Sterling to try and inject some urgency into a cup tie that had gone flat.
It worked as Sterling, released by David Silva, struck the frame of the goal with s shot.
Jesus was also put through only for centre back Terence Kongolo to save the day with a last-ditch tackle.
City had a lengthy wait until the 72nd minute before scoring their third goal which was quickly followed by a fourth.
The third came about following a poor kick out by Rodak to Kongolo who was dispossessed. Joao Cancelo crossed from the right to the far post for Jesus to score with a downward header, his 18th of the season.
That was followed by City’s last two changes as Stones and Rodrigo replaced Nicolas Otamendi and Gundogan.
City made it 4-0 in the 75th minute when Jesus struck again.
David Silva released Phil Foden whose fierce shot was well kept out by Rodak only for the rebound to bounce up for Jesus to head home unopposed from six yards.