Manchester City defeated plucky Bristol City to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 win at Ashton Gate.
Phil Foden scored twice and Kevin De Bruyne added late on as the six-time FA Cup winners ended Bristol City’s 12-match unbeaten run in front of a sell-out West Country crowd.
After the game, Man City manager Pep Guardiola praised Foden, saying Sport ITV: “Dynamics, rhythm, rhythm of work, he has quality. His career has always been high, high, high. This season he has struggled a bit and dropped a bit.
“His impact has been incredible. Football pays off when you work like him.”
Guardiola also praised his league opponents and their supporters, adding: “It was really tough. Bristol showed us how good they can be. I was impressed with some players, I didn’t know them. The second half was much better.
“Incredible fans in Bristol. We came here five years ago for the Carabao Cup and it was amazing. I remember it perfectly.”
As Guardiola alluded, the score was tough for the hosts, who fell behind to Foden’s goal in the seventh minute and remained very much in contention until the last quarter.
But Foden’s deflected effort with 16 minutes remaining and a fine De Bruyne effort ensured the visitors a place in the quarter-finals.
De Bruyne returned after missing two games through illness and captained the Manchester City side, showing five changes since Saturday’s Premier League win over Bournemouth.
England midfielder Kalvin Phillips made only his second appearance since leaving Leeds last summer, with Ederson, Erling Haaland, Ilkay Gundogan, Jack Grealish and Rodri starting the night on the bench.
Phillips was clearly determined to impress after his injury woes and just 63 seconds had passed when he hit the post from 25 yards out.
In a frantic opening, a slip by Manuel Akanji gave Sam Bell an opportunity that ended up being deflected wide and the visitors opened the scoring soon after.
Riyad Mahrez put in a clever one-two with De Bruyne and the Algerian’s cross to the far post was deflected into the top of the net by Foden, who scored for the second consecutive game.
Bristol City’s response was a loud penalty shout after Mark Sykes tangled with Rico Lewis. It seemed like a legitimate appeal, but referee Andre Marriner was unmoved and, without the VAR in operation, the home fans were left frustrated.
Of that first-half penalty incident, Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson said: “I joked to the fourth official and assistant referee that they Premier League players are a protected species.
“But I’m being facetious. It was an event in the game that didn’t go our way and I’m disappointed with the score because I thought the game was tighter than that.”
Julian Alvarez misfired in front of the home goal from a Foden cross, but Bristol City were doing well and getting a healthy dose of joy down the left flank.
Alex Scott fired a shot straight past Stefan Ortega and Bell fired over after Tomas Kalas caught De Bruyne in possession.
Manchester City’s threat was also evident when Mahrez saw his volley headed off the line by Kalas and Ruben Dias tested Max O’Leary with a header.
Mahrez was making his 400th appearance in English football and Robins manager Nigel Pearson, who signed him for Leicester in 2014 from French club Le Havre, couldn’t resist chatting with the Algerian when he took to the pitch following a challenge from Cameron Pring on the sideline.
Ederson replaced Ortega at half-time and Manchester City took command without working O’Leary until Alvarez forced him into a low save to his right.
Foden was picked up late and instantly repaid Sykes to earn a yellow card and a word from his manager Pep Guardiola to stay focused.
The temperature was rising both on and off the pitch as competition became more even and Bristol City fans urged players to seize the moment.
It nearly arrived when Scott stripped Dias for Andreas Weimann to send in a cross that Bell headed wide.
But that all ended when De Bruyne set up a wonderful pass to Nathan Ake before Alvarez set up Foden, and the Belgian midfielder ensured he had the last word from 20 yards out.
What is the next?
bristol city visit Cardiff City in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday; departure 12:30. About that, city of manchester host Newcastle United to the Premier League at the same time.