Swindon Town 1, Manchester City 4 (FA Cup 3rd Round)
Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, and Cole Palmer scored the goals that fired Manchester City into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup at Swindon Town.Embed from Getty Images
Their hosts, Swindon Town, were true to their principles in playing the ball out of from the back but they were punished for City’s first two goals that saw City race into a first half lead before the Blues saw the game out.
Although he was responsible for Jesus’ goal Swindon’s goalkeeper Louis Ward saved a penalty from the Brazilian and also saved from Kevin De Bruyne and tipped a Rodri shot onto the crossbar to keep the scoreline respectable against their illustrious opponents.
Rodolfo Borrell, City’s stand-in manager for the night after Pep Guardiola and his deputy Juanma Lillo were ruled out with COVID alongside 7 players and 12 other City staff, was the City boss on the touchline for the night.
He was in contact with Guardiola during the evening and explained: “We had a talk at half time, and he has huge confidence in us, everything went as planned.”
Silva was the nominal false nine for a Manchester City side who were still impressively strong despite the squad being decimated by the loss of seven first team players to COVID.
Although City’s team looked strong despite four changes from the side that beat Arsenal their bench was filled with players from the EDS team.
Riyad Mahrez was at the African Cup of Nations while Raheem Sterling and Ederson missed out entirely and Aymeric Laporte, along with Scott Carson, were the only senior players on the City bench with the likes of John Stones, Phil Foden, Fernandinho, and Jack Grealish missing out altogether.
They were replaced by Cole Palmer, Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker, and Zack Steffen.
Walker was playing for the first time since being sent off against RB Leipzig in December while Palmer was given the chance to shine with his third start for the club which he grabbed with both hands.
City were predictably utterly dominant as they stretched their hosts from flank to flank.
Cole Palmer saw his shot headed over the bar while Bernardo Silva’s dipping shot went over the bar.
De Bruyne was blocked off by Jordan Lyden as City won the ball back relentlessly while Cancelo shot wide.
Eventually, City took the lead after 14 minutes when Palmer skipped past two Swindon defenders and found Silva with a superb low pass from the right into the six yard box which the Portuguese tapped in from 2 yards out.
Silva volleyed over the bar from 8 yards out with a second goal going begging 4 minutes later after a poor back header by Akin Odimayo gave City an early chance to double City’s lead.
Ward saved from De Bruyne as Swindon continued to gift possession to the visitors.
But Swindon continued to insist on playing the ball out from the back and Gabriel Jesus netted after 28 minutes after Lewis Ward’s panicked short pass to Louis Reed was intercepted by Gabriel Jesus who played a 1-2 with De Bruyne before slotting the ball past Ward.
Palmer had a shot blocked by Dion Conroy as City looked for a third but it was soon City’s turn to fall asleep.
Steffen made the save after Harry McKirdy almost lifted it over the keeper after a poor pass out from the back by the American.
McKirdy found himself free towards the end of the first half but he was alone and quickly crowded out by four City defenders – which just underlined City superiority.
Cancelo almost scored a wonder goal with a curling rocket which almost drifted inside the goal from 25 yards out but inside rippled the side netting.
Cole Palmer scores excellent goal for City to cap a fine performance
But Swindon showed more fight in the second half – they made blocks and were more physical – with De Bruyne on the receiving end of a clatter.
Swindon were duly punished by Gundogan’s free kick which was bent round the misplaced wall from 25 yards out and in off the post.
Jesus was brought down in the Town box 2 minutes later – the Brazilian took the spot kick unconvincingly to the left and too near to keeper Ward allowing him to become a hero with a great save in the 62nd minute.
Tyreece Simpson tried to claim a penalty of his own soon afterwards while City made the first change of the evening – bringing on James McAtee for De Bruyne.
Gundogan had a shot tipped away by Ward while McAtee and Palmer blazed over in the final quarter of the game – Swindon were tiring but brought on Romoney Critchlow and Jonny Williams on for Ben Gladwin and Akin Odimayo.
Swindon had something to cheer after McKirdy pulled a goal back after Rodri was robbed and Williams led the counter attack and found the Swindon forward with a pass to the right – the finish was good and the County Ground erupted with 12 minutes to go.
Critchlow headed over the bar from the Swindon free kick as the home side looked for an unlikely second.
But City restored their three goal lead when Palmer found the top corner from an acute angle in off crossbar and post after Ward couldn’t stop it after Silva’s shot was deflected into his path – his third goal of the season and his first ever FA Cup goal.
Palmer was replaced by 18 year old Kayky – making his City debut – with 4 minutes to go as Nathan Ake was given a rest with Luke Mbete replacing him.
Rodri had a late surge, as he did against Arsenal, and rattled the crossbar with an almighty hit from 25 yards out after Ward managed to get a fingertips on it.
GOALS – Swindon Town 1, Manchester City 4 (FA Cup 3rd Round)
Swindon Town 0, Man City 1: 14. Cole Palmer skipped past two players and crossed low into the six yard box where Bernardo Silva was waiting for a 2 yard tap-in.
Swindon Town 0, Man City 2: 28. Gabriel Jesus won the ball off Louis Reed after a poor pass out from the back by Lewis Ward. The Brazilian exchanged passes with Kevin de Bruyne before slotting past Reed.
Swindon Town 0, Man City 3: 59. Ilkay Gundogan bent the ball around the poorly set up Swindon Town wall after Kevin De Bruyne was fouled by Ellis Iandolo.
Swindon Town 1, Man City 3: 78. Harry McKirdy was released by Jonny Williams for a super strike from the right as Swindon Town gave their fans something to cheer for.
Swindon Town 1, Man City 4: 82. Cole Palmer reacted quickly and smashed the ball into the top corner off crossbar and post from wide on the right after Bernardo Silva’s shot was blocked but the rebound fell to him.
MATCH STATS – Swindon Town 1, Manchester City 4 (FA Cup 3rd Round)
Swindon Town: Ward, Hunt, Conroy, Odimayo (Crichlow 70), Reed (East 87), Hayden, Lyden, Gladwin (Williams 70), Iandolo, McKirdy (Dabre 87), Simpson (Parsons 84)
Swindon Town subs not used: Mildenhall, O’Brien, Cowmeadow, Grant
Goal: McKirdy 78
Man City: Steffen, Walker, Dias, Ake (Mbete 86), Cancelo, De Bruyne (McAtee 67), Rodri, Gundogan (Lavia 83), Palmer (Kayky 86), Bernardo Silva, Jesus
Man City subs not used: Carson, Slicker, Laporte, Bobb, Egan-Riley
Bookings: Rodri 64 (foul on Kesler Hayden), Walker 80, McAtee 90+2 (foul on Jonny Williams)
Missed pen: Jesus 62
Goals: Palmer 14; Jesus 28; Gundogan 59; Palmer 82
Referee: Darren England