Daily Mail

City swagger on as Foden fires double

- JACK GAUGHAN at Ashton Gate

This is a competitio­n that is threatenin­g to open up for Manchester City. There are not many big hitters left, so Pep Guardiola looks well placed to double his collection of FA Cup winners’ medals.

semi-finals are usually their undoing, losing at that stage in each of the last three seasons. By that point of a campaign, the Champions League’s knockouts are in full swing.

And, believe it or not, City’s squad always feels stretched by that point. Guardiola likes to keep its size small, with 17 senior outfield players at his disposal this time, and it will be interestin­g to see whether they can cope on three fronts.

Before all that, they managed to get past Bristol City in a tie that was alive until Phil Foden’s shot deflected in off Zak Vyner with 16 minutes left. On a lively night, Nigel Pearson’s side tried to open the game up in a way Guardiola is unaccustom­ed to dealing with.

Kalvin Phillips came through only his second start since signing last summer with little problem, striking the post from 20 yards within a couple of minutes.

Bristol City have always manufactur­ed the arrival of topflight opposition into absorbing occasions on nights like these. Both Manchester clubs were here in 2017-18 for Carabao Cup fixtures — one losing in memorable fashion and the other taken all the way over a two-legged semifinal, eventually settled beyond doubt by Kevin De Bruyne.

The crowd played a part then and they did again last night, raising the noise levels as Rico Lewis tangled with Mark sykes in the box — no VAR in operation — or when the energetic Alex scott rode challenges as he drove towards stefan Ortega’s goal.

There is considerab­le disdain for the riches that their visitors represent in these parts. A local pub here was decorated in disparagin­g messages, following the news that City had been charged with more than 100 breaches of financial rules by the Premier League, the other week. Those sentiments continued last night, with the travelling fans told, ‘You know what you are’ — alongside some rather more choice language.

That bit of bite translated to the home players, although they were behind within seven minutes. Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne exchanged passes to engineer the perfect chance for Foden to score in consecutiv­e matches for the first time since October.

Ortega was forced off at the break after appearing to suffer a hand injury earlier in the evening, with Ederson called upon and straight into the action when unsure of how to deal with a loose ball. Things like that lift a crowd even more.

At the other end, Tomas Kalas diverted a Mahrez volley off the line, which was brought about by centre half Vyner being a little too adventurou­s, while Ruben Dias went close and goalkeeper Max O’Leary had to fall on Julian Alvarez’s snapshot.

Bell was unlucky not to convert a cross from the right before Vyner diverted Foden’s shot in for 2-0. And De Bruyne capped off a sparkling night by bending an effort beyond O’Leary from 25 yards. BRISTOL CITY (4-2-3-1): O’Leary 6.5; Tanner 6 (Weimann 46min, 6), Vyner 5, Kalas 7, Pring 6.5 (Dasilva 77); James 6 (King 89), Williams 6 (Taylor-Clarke 89); Sykes 7, Scott 7, Bell 7; Wells 6 (Francois 82). Booked: Williams.

Manager: Nigel Pearson 6.5.

MAN CITY (3-2-4-1): Ortega 6 (Ederson 46, 6); Akanji 7, Dias 6.5, Ake 6.5 (Gomez 83); Lewis 6.5, Phillips 7; Mahrez 6.5 (Grealish 71, 6.5), De Bruyne 7.5, Silva 7 (Perrone 88), FODEN 8 (Palmer 83); Alvarez 6.5. Scorers: Foden 7, 75, De Bruyne 81. Booked: Foden, Silva.

Manager: Pep Guardiola 7.

Referee: Andre Marriner 5.

Attendance: 25,713.

 ?? REUTERS ?? Two good: Phil Foden nets his and City’s second goal at Ashton Gate last night
REUTERS Two good: Phil Foden nets his and City’s second goal at Ashton Gate last night
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