MANCHESTER CITY 2, FULHAM 0
Brahim Diaz, one of Manchester City’s new kids on the block, stole the limelight as City comfortably beat Fulham to claim their place in the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup.
The 19-year-old Spaniard scored both City goals as he eclipsed many of the more illustrious names on view.
And there was another imperious showing from Phil Foden, the teenage midfielder who is destined for greatness.
Pep Guardiola fielded effectively his second team – 10 changes from Monday’s win at Wembley against Tottenham – but they were still far too strong from a near full strength Fulham side that was totally devoid of confidence after an awful start to the season following their promotion.
City’s manager did not want to single out Diaz for praise explaining that it was a good team performance.
Guardiola was asked about the prospect of Diaz leaving due to being unable to hold down a regular place due to the intense competition.
He said: “We want him to stay, but it does not depend on us.
“We cannot insist – his agent, him and family will decide.
“Our opinion of him is so high, but it is not easy to find spaces, but we are delighted he decided to stay.”
Guardiola spoke about the difficulty of having so many players at his disposal.
He said: “No words can explain how tough it is to leave players out, but it makes my job easier as it is a joy to train them.
“It is not only the young players, but leaving players like Fabian Delph and Danilo out of the 18.
“There is a lot of competition, but December and January is so complicated and everyone will play.”
Guardiola was pleased with the number of chances his side created and to progress to the quarter finals.
John Stones was the sole survivor of the City team that kicked off at Wembley as it was all change.
Though City began with youngsters Aro Muric, Foden and Diaz, they still fielded eight full internationals in the side that kicked off. And Muric, Foden and Diaz are all U21 internationals for Montenegro, England and Spain respectively.
They also had plenty in reserve on the bench that included Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker and Ederson.
Fulham fielded a strong line up that contained seven of the side that started Saturday’s league game against Bournemouth.
City began of the front foot and in the opening minute Kevin De Bruyne forced a save from Sergio Rico.
De Bruyne, easing his way back after a lengthy injury lay-off, had three chances in the opening eight minutes while not long after Foden forced keeper Sergio Rico to beat out his fierce drive.
It was only a matter before the breakthrough that came in the 18th minute through Diaz whose shot took a wicked deflection off Aleksandar Mitrovic to wrong foot Rico. It came from a De Bruyne corner that was not cleared with Fabien Delph providing the assist.
There was no easing up by City and Brazilian right-back Danilo struck the upright following a weaving run into the box.
De Bruyne and Leroy Sane both fired over as it remained largely one-way traffic.
City ought to have added a second goal late in the opening period as Foden glanced a header narrowly wide and Gabriel Jesus was just off target with another effort after a fabulous, weaving run.
The start to the second half followed an identical pattern to the first with City in total command as Jesus headed wide when well placed while De Bruyne bent another effort narrowly off target.
Sane shot into the side netting after a scintillating weaving run left defender Tim Fosu-Mensah for dead.
City finally scored their second midway through the second period and it was Diaz who struck again.
Sane released Jesus whose angled shot struck the far upright with Diaz on hand to fire the rebound into the roof of the net from seven yards.
City made their first change with 12 minutes left when two-goal Diaz was replaced by Riyad Mahrez.
De Bruyne limped off after being clattered by Fosu-Mensah to be replaced by young home debutant Claudio Gomes.
Guardiola said De Bruyne, who he described as being back to his best, was being checked by the doctor and didn’t know the extend of the injury, but hoped it was not serious.