Kelechi’s hat-trick seals the vic­tory

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FOURTH ROUND - By Liam Butcher

KELECHI Iheana­cho was the star of the show as Manch­ester City cruised into round five of the FA Cup, and boss Manuel Pel­le­grini be­lieves the teenager’s hat-trick vin­di­cates his de­ci­sion to let more ex­pe­ri­enced strik­ers leave the club.

Iheana­cho’s tre­ble put City 3-0 ahead be­fore Ra­heem Ster­ling rounded off the scor­ing as As­ton Villa showed why they are bot­tom of the Premier League.

Eye­brows were raised when both Ste­van Jovetic and Edin Dzeko were al­lowed to exit last sum­mer, but the emer­gence of 19-year-old Iheana­cho, who also scored in the third-round win over Nor­wich, has man­ager Pel­le­grini con­tent with the call.

“I'm very happy, Kelechi is a very good young player,” said Pel­le­grini.

“We let Ste­van Jovetic and Edin Dzeko go be­cause I see Kelechi ev­ery day and know what he can do.

“Bacary Sagna played well at cen­tre-back, he didn’t make any mis­takes, and Willy Ca­ballero was solid in goal.”

City were ahead within four min­utes at Villa Park as the hosts failed to clear a cor­ner and Iheana­cho swept in from close-range.

The Nige­rian then made it 2-0 from the penalty spot af­ter Ster­ling had been felled by Le­an­dro Ba­cuna in the box and com­pleted a wellde­served hat-trick 14 min­utes from time as he raced clear and slot­ted home.

Ster­ling poked in a fourth soon af­ter to com­pound Villa’s mis­ery as the Premier League’s low­est scor­ers once again failed to find the net.

Idrissa Gana did force Ca­ballero into one stop while Car­les Gil’s free-kick also tested him but in truth they showed lit­tle to sug­gest that their fight against rel­e­ga­tion to the Cham­pi­onship is one they will win.

And man­ager Remi Garde found it tough to take pos­i­tives from the dis­play as he ac­knowl­edged that a slow start cost his side dearly.

“When you start the game so poorly, it is dif­fi­cult,” he ex­plained.

“Af­ter the first two goals, they played qui­etly and we did not have much dan­ger to cope with.

“The penalty was a bit harsh but it is done. I don’t want to blame the team too much and we have im­por­tant games com­ing up.”

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