Manchester City 5 – 1 Huddersfield Town
Two goals by Argentinian forward Sergio Aguero helped Manchester City book a Quarterfinal meeting with Middlesbrough a week on Saturday. as the Blues beat a spirited Huddersfield Town side 5-1 in their FA Cup Fifth-Round replay at the Etihad Stadium.
It was 10 days ago that saw the two sides cancelling each other out at the John Smith’s Stadium in West Yorkshire, where the Championship form-side held out their stronger opposition to a replay in Manchester. Pep Guardiola had saw his side coming into some form of late with City unbeaten in 7 games since their thrashing at Everton in mid January.
On paper it seemed like the Premier League side would fare better being home against lower league opposition, but City have struggled against Championship sides since the club was taken over back in 2008, with the Blues being dumped out of the FA Cup by lower league opposition at home three times. So with their stalemate in Huddersfield proving to give Pep a welcome to the FA Cup, the City boss knew he couldn’t afford to his side be embarrassed on live tv and needed them break Joe Wagner’s stubborn side.
It was the home side that started on the front foot and nearly saw Leroy Sane finding the net, when his shot with the outside of the foot curled past Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal, but saw his effort hitting the inside of the far post and the fallen Fernandinho was unable to stretch out and get a kick on the rebound. Huddersfield were not overawed at all by the occasion and saw the visitors taking a shock 7th minute lead through of all people Harry Bunn, after the player was a former youth product at City’s Academy growing up and also started his career out with the Blues too.
The goal itself was a well worked piece of attacking play by the ‘Terriers’ and was in very much in keeping with how the City bosses teams play, with some nice quick counter attacking in the lead up to the goal and after a deft touch by Phil Billing helped draw Pablo Zabaleta over towards the Town man, it saw Bunn having time to control the ball and then drilling it through the legs of Claudio Bravo and in truth the keeper should have done better. The aftermath saw pandemonium coming from the away end with travelling Huddersfield Town fans revelling in bloodying City’s nose early doors and perhap on the verge of an upset.
For some time after the goal went in, the home side seemed to be in shock and saw passes going astray, while players were running into trouble and their general all round game was pretty poor too. Players like Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling were finding things difficult and caused frustration amongst the home fans as the home side was finding themselves unable to get to grips with the contest for the opening twenty minutes of play.
Huddersfield got away with a couple of clear handball decisions that wasn’t given, but with the referee unmoved to the claims by the home side it saw City getting more into the game a bit and they soon found themselves getting more joy going forwards. City equalised on the half hour mark through midfielder Leroy Sane, when a ball by Kevin De Bruyne saw a Town defender left his hand up in the penalty area and had the ball just brushing it inside the area but with no penalty given it saw the ball coming to Sterling out wide and with two defender on him did a couple of step-overs before slipping ball across the face of goal for Sane to tap in for the Blues equaliser.
City was awarded a penalty five minutes later, when Hudderfield’s Slovenian defender Jon Gorenc Stankovic was adjudged to have brought down Nicolas Otamendi in the box and that gave Sergio Aguero the opportunity to put City 2-1 up from the penalty spot and the striker duly did so and you felt a sense of relief around the ground from the home side of things that they had come through the worse part.
Aguero was a big contributor to the hosts third goal of the game, when the striker saw his shot stopped by the keeper but the forward was quick to chase down the rebound and play a pass across goal for his fellow countryman in Pablo Zabaleta to poke home and put the hosts 3-1 to the good. The City fans were delighted to have have turned the game around and even became a bit more confident now with chants towards their opposing fans of ‘We want ten’ around the ground, a reference to a previous meeting back the sides in 1987 when the Blues thrashed Huddersfield 10-1 that day at their former ground at Maine Road.
Huddersfield almost made it 3-2 before the half time break, when another beautiful pass by Billing caught out the home side once again and gave Jack Payne the chance to score a second for the Championship side, but this time Bravo managed to pull of a save and drew a loud ironic cheer from his home fans after the keeper has been under the spotlight for some high profile blunders this season.
Second half had the away side coming close again, this time from a short corner and had Rajiv Van La Parra putting a ball into the box for Joe Lolley who was first to react but was unable to guide his header on target and spurned a great chance.
The hosts had to wait till the 73rd minute of the game to see them increasing their lead even further, after Aguero grabbed his second of the game to make it 4-1 with a lovely flowing team move that was right out of the Guardiola playbook. Firstly Fernandinho had nipped the ball away from the oncoming defender into the path of Zabeleta, whose little pass out wide for Sterling saw the England man crossing into the area and have Sergio Aguero making a run to the near post to put in and all but book City’s place in the last 8 of the competition this year.
With seconds remaining it saw Kelechi Iheanacho adding a fifth for the home side after the youngster got a small touch to see it ending up in the back of the Town net and have City now moving on to face Middlesbrough in the next round.
In their previous four FA Cup encounters down the years, it has saw the Blues coming out on the winning side just once with their last victory coming in 2015. However the last team to beat City at home in the competition was Middlesbrough a couple of years ago, where the blues will be hoping they can return the favour when they travel up North to Teeside and look to book their place at Wembley for another semi-final place later this month.