Manchester City made hard work of a 2-0 win at Peterborough United to advance to the FA Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Premier League leaders City named a strong side – captained by Oleksandr Zinchenko in a show of solidarity with Ukraine – but toiled against the Championship strugglers.
The Posh had the game’s clearest opportunities up until the hour mark when Phil Foden took control of proceedings, teeing up both Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish to take the tie away from the home team.
It was reward for City’s perseverance, having piled on the pressure from the outset on a patchy Peterborough pitch.
The best chance of the first half came at the other end when Jeando Fuchs got in behind Nathan Ake and saw a low, deflected effort touched around the post by Ederson.
And Sammie Szmodics really should have fired Peterborough in front early in the second period but scuffed horribly wide when the ball fell his way from a long throw.
City were far more clinical when they finally crafted an opening, as Mahrez spotted a gap between the legs of defender Hayden Coulson and squeezed his shot into the bottom-left corner.
Mahrez might have added a swift second when Josh Knight blocked bravely, yet it was only a temporary reprieve for the Posh, who had no answer for Foden.
The England midfielder’s sharp pass under pressure found Mahrez for the opener, but he had time and space to lift his head and seek out Grealish for the second – sublime control followed by a cool finish.
Still Peterborough did not give in, and Ederson had to save well from Jack Marriott, although City were comfortable at 2-0 and could have had more – Foden and Grealish each denied before Aymeric Laporte missed an open goal – as they advanced to the last eight for the fifth time under Pep Guardiola.
What does it mean? No City procession at Posh
This was City’s 12th consecutive FA Cup win against lower-league opposition since 2018’s shock defeat at Wigan Athletic. Guardiola’s side had scored three or more in 10 of the prior 11, tallying 40 goals across those matches, but this match was not quite so straightforward.
Two goals in just under seven minutes made the difference as this tie went the same way as the only previous meeting between the teams, when City beat Peterborough 1-0 in the fifth round of this competition in 1981.
Grealish gets ‘the statistics’…
“Always we talk about the statistics,” Guardiola moaned before this match in a defence of Grealish, insisting he did not need to worry about his underwhelming numbers since signing for City.
On Tuesday, though, those figures made for kind reading for the England winger. As well as scoring his first FA Cup goal from one of three shots (two on target), he created a game-high five chances for team-mates.
But Foden the City star
Just behind Grealish with four chances created was Foden, although two of those were assists for the game’s decisive goals.
The ball for Grealish’s goal was outstanding, yet perhaps the pass for Mahrez best summed up a brave Foden display. The midfielder, who had earlier made a vital challenge inside his own area at 0-0, was clattered by Frankie Kent but still managed to set his team-mate up.
After the quarter-final draw on Thursday, City can park their FA Cup aspirations for a while and focus instead on the Premier League. Manchester United visit the Etihad Stadium this weekend.
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