Pep Guardiola felt Man City were given a tough examination by Fulham


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola felt his side had survived a stern test despite ultimately running out 4-1 winners over Fulham in the FA Cup.

The Premier League leaders were stunned when the Championship pace-setters claimed a fourth-minute lead in Saturday’s fourth-round tie at the Etihad Stadium through Fabio Carvalho.

City hit back as Ilkay Gunodgan equalized two minutes later and John Stones soon headed them ahead.

Two goals from Riyad Mahrez – the first from the penalty spot – then put the result beyond doubt early in the second half but Guardiola felt it had been a tough battle.

The Spaniard said: β€œI know which team we faced today and which team we beat. When a team is top of the Championship it is because they are really good.

β€œMarco (Silva) has created an incredible team. We knew how difficult it would be. I am not over-exaggerating.

β€œIf they carry on playing this way we will face them again in the Premier League, I am sure.

β€œBut in the second half we adjusted our pressing, which had not been good. It was much better and the quality of our players made the difference.”

The game got off to a blistering start as Harry Wilson broke clear down the right and whipped in a fine ball for Carvalho to turn in.

Carvalho was reportedly close to a deadline-day move to Liverpool but the collapse of that potential deal clearly had not affected him.

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Ilkay Gundogan
Ilkay Gundogan (centre) leveled for Manchester City (PA)

City responded swiftly and clinically as Gundogan leveled after being picked out by Mahrez and Stones then put City from an inswinging Kevin De Bruyne corner on 13 minutes.

The game quietened down after that frantic opening but Fulham continued to probe in the hope of getting back into the game.

Ultimately their hopes were killed off as City stepped up the tempo early in the second half.

Jack Grealish began to run at the defense more often and won a penalty when he was tripped by Joe Bryan.

Mahrez tucked home from the spot and was then on hand to make the score 4-1 after a typically dynamic run and razor-sharp ball inside from De Bruyne.

It was an impressive return to club action for Mahrez after his recent frustrations at the Africa Cup Nations, where he missed a crucial penalty against Ivory Coast as Algeria crashed out at the group stage.

Guardiola said: β€œHe has a special quality and always has a feeling to score a goal.

β€œWe struggled a lot in the last years to score penalties but now it is a guarantee. He has the personality to say, ‘Give me the ball, I am going to score,’ and he did it.”

Manchester City v Fulham – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Etihad Stadium
Marco Silva (right) was happy with how his team acquired themselves (PA)

Fulham boss Silva was pleased how his side acquired themselves.

The Portuguese said: β€œWe started the game like we planned – a quick strong start, showing we are here to match them and do our best, with desire to go through.

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β€œOur first goal was a very good moment for us but the worst thing for us was that they equalized straight away. In that moment we have to show more resilience.

β€œThey then scored from a set-piece but our first half was really good. Unfortunately we didn’t start the second like we should and they scored two goals in the first 10 minutes, two goals that we should not concede.

β€œWe had the possession and lost it too easily and after that they killed the game.

β€œBut I’m really pleased to see the way we played the first half. I think everyone saw Fulham was here and we were matching them really well.”

Manchester City v Fulham – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Etihad Stadium
Fabio Carvalho (right) shoots for Fulham (PA)

Silva also praised Carvalho for the way he responded to any frustration over the Liverpool issue.

He said: β€œIt is not a surprise for me. Since I arrived I have seen the quality and the talent the boy has.

β€œWe have trust in him and he deserves this trust. He is working hard every day to improve, even with all the rumors around him and his contract with him. He has enough quality, enough talent to keep playing at this level.”




www.irvinetimes.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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