MAN CITY 6, WYCOMBE WANDERERS 1
On a night when Manchester City handed debuts to six academy graduates, they hit Wycombe Wanderers for six to breeze into the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.
And one of the six, 19-year-old Cole Palmer scored the goal of the night as City put the plucky League One side to the sword.
But it was not straightforward as Wycombe stole ahead midway through the opening half through Brandon Hanlon as they sensed an upset.
That merely jolted City into action as they quickly toon control overturning a deficit into a 3-1 interval lead through goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden.
In the second half there were further goals for Ferran Torres, a second for Mahrez and Palmer as City’s progress was never in doubt.
But plucky Wycombe deserved credit for their adventurous approach as they mustered 12 goal attempts.
City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to the youngsters and the academy staff for producing them.Embed from Getty Images
Guardiola said: “We have talented players, and we know we can count on them. They train with us every day and they have the desire, patience and love as well as the skill and work ethic.
“It was one of those nights when I love to be manager and make them feel part of this amazing club. I am so proud to be manager with City and thank all those in the academy for producing these players.
“I know how special it was for the fans to see players from the academy. I was convinced they could play, and it was a dream for them to play in our stadium.”
Guardiola added City have a really good generation of generation of young players drawing a comparison with Barcelona who had seven former academy players in their line up for the Champions League final against Manchester United and hoping others will follow Foden in becoming established senior players.
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth said: “We didn’t get carried away to see a shock when you look at their front five while their back five will be future superstars.
“The superstars made the difference and great for Brandon to get his first goal for the club. We led for five minutes, and I will take that as a positive.
“We were up against it for the rest of the game. Sometimes when you lose possession, you don’t see the ball for two or three minutes.”
Guardiola said his mounting injury list, especially to defenders, meant he had no choice but to field five academy players who were all making their first-team debuts.
With John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Oleksandr Zinchenko injured, Nathan Ake on compassionate leave and Ruben Dias on the bench, City had a rookie back four of CJ Egan-Riley, Luke Mbete, Finley Burns and Josh Wilson-Esbrand, last season’s EDS backline, in front of goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
However, there was no shortage of firepower in the side. Kevin de Bruyne captained the side while Raheem Sterling, Foden, Mahrez and Torres also started.
City also had plenty of back up on the bench in Dias, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo.
For Wycombe, the beast Adebayo Akinfenwa started and was named captain. Dominic Gape and Jason McCarthy were also back from injury.
Their side included Joe Jacobson and Jordan Obita, both of whom have had previous spells at Oldham Athletic.
There was one minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of the legendary Jimmy Greaves who died two days ago aged 81,
City had overwhelming possession – 86 per cent in the opening 12 minutes without seriously troubling Wycombe.
Their first clear-cut chance in in the 17th minute saw a Torres header force a routine save from David Stockdale following Mahrez’s cross.
After a low-key opening, Wycombe took a shock lead mid-half.
Obita’s angled shot was well kept out by Steffen who punched the resulting corner to the edge of the box.
Two shots were blocked, the second ricocheting to Ryan Tafazolli who squared a pass for Hanlan to side-foot home from inside the six-yard box.
Hanlan, 24, started his career as a youth-team player at Charlton Athletic and has played most of his senior football for Gillingham and Bristol Rovers.
City were jolted into action and were level just before the half hour.
Foden made a terrific run before releasing De Bruyne on the left and he threaded an angled shot low into the far corner, an exquisite finish for his first goal of the season.
The lively Foden then set up Sterling who bent a shot from 22 yards past Stockdale only to see it strike the upright and then the back of the goalkeeper and staying out.
City were denied by the frame of the goal for a second time as Mahrez struck the upright.
Mahrez was not to be denied barely one minute later when he fired City ahead with a low shot from 16 yards following a cut back from Wilson-Esbrand.
The floodgates suddenly opened as City scored a third in stoppage time and second in three minutes.
Mahrez provided the assist with a short corner to Foden who lashed home a 25-yard swerving drive which Stockdale got to but could only deflect the ball into the roof of the net. It was also his first goal of the season.
City continued to pepper the Wycombe goal after the restart, Mahrez forcing a decent save from Stockdale.
Wycombe also had their moments, Akinfenwa heading off target, centre back Anthony Stewart firing narrowly wide as did Sullay Kaikai.
Their best chance of the half was an effort from Obita which was well blocked by Steffen as Wycombe continued to make a good fist of the game.
City added a fourth goal in the 71st minute as De Bruyne and Foden opened up the visiting defence to set up Torres who had an easy finish.
James McAtee became the sixth City debutant of the night when he replaced Lavia with 18 minutes left when Palmer also made his entrance for Torres.
Mahrez scored his second of the night, fourth for the season and City’s fifth with seven minutes left when he swept home a low shot from Sterling’s cut back.
Palmer put the icing on the cake with City’s sixth goal in the 88th minute, a brilliant solo effort.
The 19-year-old midfielder picked up the ball from halfway and ran towards goal before placing into the far corner from the edge of the box, a great strike.