Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Manchester City 5 Huddersfield Town 1: First-half blitz seals last-eight spot after Bravo blunder

SoccerNews in FA Cup 1 Mar 2017

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Manchester City survived a scare from Championship high-flyers Huddersfield Town to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 5-1 victory in a replay at the Etihad Stadium.

City had been held to a 0-0 draw at Huddersfield in the first meeting last month and stunningly fell behind early on through Harry Bunn’s shock opener, which arrived via another Claudio Bravo blunder.

But a quickfire treble just after the half-hour from Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta put City in command.

It was another rousing evening’s entertainment at the Etihad, the first half reminiscent of last week’s pulsating 5-3 City victory over Monaco in the Champions League.

Aguero’s second killed off any lingering hope of a remarkable comeback from Huddersfield, before a late Kelechi Iheanacho tap-in completed a convincing triumph.

City now face Middlesbrough in the next round, though their attention turns back to the Premier League and a trip to Sunderland on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s men were denied an opener by the woodwork in the early stages as Sane unleashed a thunderous fourth-minute shot from the left-hand edge of the penalty area that cannoned back off the far post too quickly for Fernandinho to convert the rebound.

But it was the visitors who took a surprise seventh-minute lead through Bunn, as the spotlight was once again on Bravo for all the wrong reasons.

Bunn found space on the left-hand side of the penalty area during a rapid Huddersfield counter to meet Philip Billing’s superbly weighted pass, with Bravo making a tame attempt to save by allowing the firm strike to slip through his legs.

Huddersfield looked comfortable after taking the lead, though the hosts had a penalty appeal turned down after Jon Gorenc Stankovic appeared to handle in the area, but a magnificent eight-minute burst from City effectively shattered their hopes of progressing further.

First, Raheem Sterling dazzled two Huddersfield defenders with his fleet footwork on the right wing before squaring to Sane for a two-yard tap-in.

The turnaround was complete five minutes minutes later, as Aguero powered a penalty into the roof of the net for his 21st goal of the season after Stankovic had bundled over Nicolas Otamendi.

Aguero – who was then denied by the post – turned provider in the 38th minute, collecting the rebound after being denied by Joel Coleman to cut back and provide Zabaleta with a simple task.

Huddersfield continued to bother City after the break, and Joe Lolley was the next to waste the chance to pull it back to 3-2, skewing his header over in the 55th minute. Collin Quaner then appeared to be clipped by John Stones in the box, but no penalty was forthcoming.

However, the visitors tired as the second half went on, and only a smart save by Coleman from Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick prevented City taking a 4-1 lead.

Aguero did add further gloss to the scoreline with 16 minutes left with a fierce snapshot at the near post following another pinpoint Sterling cross, before Iheanacho turned a deflected Jesus Navas delivery into the bottom-left corner in stoppage time.

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