Player ratings and analyzes as Cole Palmer shines in the FA Cup

Swindon Town 1-4 Manchester City (McKirdy 78 ′; Silva 14 ′, Jesus 28 ′, Gundogan 59 ′, Palmer 82 ′)

If Pep Guardiola needed a pickup at home in the Northwest, then he got it thanks to his players who made him and FA Cups proud of this third round draw in Swindon.

It’s hard to imagine Manchester By‘s hyperactive leader puts his feet up and really relaxes even after the positive Covid-19 test that prevented him, seven of the players and 13 employees from road to Amtspladsen.

But provided he tuned in ITV coverage he would have been able to sit back and enjoy what was, on the whole, a fully committed, confident performance as the Premier League pace-setters showed a willingness not to take their foot off the gas.

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The goals from Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus in the first half put City in control before captain Ilkay Gundogan scored an excellent free kick.

The only source of concern for Guardiola would have been Jesus’ missed penalty kick and the only fault a late goal from Swindon striker Harry McKirdy, which was followed up by City’s fourth of the night by the excellent Cole Palmer.

The result line may not have been much to write home about, but the discipline and focus his players showed towards their opponents in the lower league would have pleased the obsessed Guardiola.

His assistant Rodolfo Borrell took over the helm of Guardiola and the absence of right-hander Juanma Lillico, and his assistant Rodolfo Borrell honored his pre-match promise by posing with his strongest team as City set out to win a trophy won only once during the reign of the Spaniard, in 2019.

Borrell hardly needed to lift a finger in anger on the sidelines until late as his team approached their work with the same intensity levels that many top clubs have previously only reserved for comrades in the Premier League.

City started brilliantly and Silva should have put them ahead in the fifth minute but after Joao Cancelo’s withdrawal but lacked his usual control and his first shot accelerated over Lewis Wards’ crossbar.

Man City player ratings

  • Steffen 6
  • Walker 7
  • Slide 7
  • Ake 7 (Mbete 86)
  • Cancel 7
  • Gundogan 7 (Lavia 83)
  • Rodrigo 6
  • De Bruyne 7 (McAtee 65, 6)
  • Palmer 8
  • Silva 6
  • Jesus 6

Swindon also had their moments, Ellis Iandolo’s diabolical cross just escaped skipper Dion Conroy, and that at least gave the locals reason to be optimistic.

The hope of a disturbance vanished when their five-man defense was lifted by the wizard from Palmer, who emphasized City’s strength in depth by confusing his markers before delivering a low post, was put in from close range by Silva in minute.

Only the most incurable Cup romantic would still have bet on a shock as City strengthened their grip on the draw in minute when Kevin de Bruyne expertly teased Jesus and he finished calmly with a low shot.

Swindon came back and striker McKirdy must have imagined his chances for bloody City noses when Zack Steffen’s clearing came to him, but the goalkeeper came in time to gather his attempt on the chip.

City’s determination not to give Swindon anything to shout about was summed up by the way four defenders ran back to deny McKirdy when he broke out.

Thanks to Swindon manager Ben Garner’s penchant for passing football, this proved to be a good workout for City as they eased to a successive victory in home football.

A draw was effectively made and dusty as Gundogan effortlessly beat Ward with a 25-yard free-kick in the 59th minute.

Humiliation looked short on the cards when Jesus stepped up to take a penalty kick three minutes later, but Ward saved well low to his right.

The misstep evoked the night’s highest cheers so far and touched Swindon, who pulled a goal back through McKirdy, who rolled the ball over Steffen in the 78’ minute after good work by Jonny Williams.

But that shock got City going again, and fittingly enough, the impressive Palmer, the best on display player, got the last word with a powerful finish to end a good switch for City and the 19-year-old in particular. Who said you do not win anything with children.

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