Jesus shines as Man City thrash 10-man Fulham

Holders Manchester City continued their FA Cup defence with a dominant fourth-round victory over Fulham in which they became the first major European team to score 100 goals this season.

Any prospect of the Championship side producing an upset was effectively over after six minutes, when defender Tim Ream hauled down Gabriel Jesus in the area and was sent off.

Raheem Sterling and Jesus had missed their previous two penalties, but Ilkay Gundogan avoided making it an unwanted hat-trick when he tucked the ball into the corner from the spot.

City – who made eight changes and started with Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne on the bench – soon took total control as Bernardo Silva added a classy second from the edge of the box.

The Portuguese’s effort meant City brought up their century of goals in 37 games, two more than it took last season.

Jesus added two second-half headers, capitalising on poor Fulham defending, for a side who have averaged five goals per game in home FA Cup matches under Pep Guardiola.

City’s quest for cup treble continues

Sixteen points behind leaders Liverpool but 17 points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, Manchester City’s Premier League fate – and next season’s Champions League spot – seems all but certain.

So the challenge now for Guardiola’s team is to add all three remaining cup competitions to the Community Shield they won in August.

The FA Cup and Carabao Cup holders are well placed to reach the final of the latter competition – they hold a 3-1 advantage over Manchester United with the second leg of their semi-final to come this Wednesday.

And, predictably, they made light work of Fulham to ensure they remain on course for another lengthy run in the FA Cup too.

Angelino, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden could have made the scoreline embarrassing for the visitors in the first half and their wastefulness might have been the one cause for concern for a perfectionist such as Guardiola.

Bernardo Silva’s excellent strike – twisting and turning on the edge of the box before an unerring finish into the bottom corner – was much more like it, though.

Fulham were generous opponents, sticking with their approach of playing out from the back, and Jesus was the second-half beneficiary. First he headed in after the visitors’ dallied too long and were dispossessed, then he nodded in to an open net after keeper Marek Rodak could only parry Phil Foden’s powerful drive.

City have enjoyed a favourable series of draws since the start of 2017-18 in the FA Cup, and this latest demolition means their tally from games against Burnley (twice), Cardiff, Wigan, Rotherham, Newport, Swansea, Brighton, Watford, Port Vale and now Fulham stands at 40-6.

There will, of course, be tougher tests to come – not least the prospect of Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 in exactly a month’s time – but Guardiola will have been grateful for the chance to rest so many key players while advancing with such ease.

 

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