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Surviving a scare
Manchester City advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a dramatic 3-1 comeback win over Cheltenham Town FC.
The League Two side were nine minutes away from pulling off one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s illustrious history.
Alfie May gave the home side an opening goal in the 59th minute.
The Robins held on bravely for much of the second-half before Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus scored goals three minutes apart to turn the tide.
Ferran Torres rounded out the scoring in injury time as City squeak by into round five.
As you would have expected Man City was the dominant side creating quality chances early on.
For much of the game though Cheltenham had an answer and seemed destined for an upset.
Tozer cleared Mendy’s strike off the line early on.
Josh Griffiths denied Ferran Torres as the Sky Blues were kept at bay in the first half.
Fernandinho and Foden had near misses themselves as City carried the play.
Gabriel Jesus came close in the 54th minute after a nice ball through from Foden but he smashed his shot against the post.
The Robins then scored from seemingly nothing.
A nice long throw on 59 minutes was touched on by Lloyd who turned it into the path of Alfie May who snuck in behind the City defence to fire his shot into the roof of the net.
Griffiths pulled off another nice save in the 70th minute with Riyad Mahrez in on goal.
City finally found an answer in the 81st minute.
Joao Cancelo clipped a nice ball through to Phil Foden who was all alone at the far post and volleyed the cross first-time past Griffiths for the equaliser.
Three minutes later City took the lead as Fernandinho picked out Gabriel Jesus who just beat the offside trap, took one touch, and fired it past Griffiths.
Ferran Torres put the game on ice in the 94th minute when Ilkay Gundogan spotted him in space as he fired home from point-blank range.
Man of the Match
Phil Foden continues to prove how valuable he is to Manchester City.
As we’ve seen all season he was smart, strong on the ball, creative, and always threatening.
When his team looked sloppy and out of sorts he was the one that brought them back looking lively and all game long.
After missing a couple of chances in the first half, his equaliser got his side back on track to the eventual victory.
He’s now got three goals now in elimination games for his side this season.
Foden is proving he’s versatile and can come up big in the clutch.
The Beatles famously released a song years ago called “Revolution 9”.
In that song, Yoko Ono repeats the words “number nine” over and over again.
The Robins will have nightmares of that number today thinking what could have been.
Cheltenham was a mere nine minutes away from their biggest triumph and their first-ever win against a Premier League side.
The heartbreaking defeat is the ninth time they’ve lost to an EPL opponent.
As if that weren’t enough City fired nine shots on target before coming away the victors.
Despite the loss, Cheltenham can hold their heads high seeing as they are 72 places below Man City in the football pyramid.
They defended admirably and played as well as you could’ve asked for.
After the game, Cheltenham manager Michael Duff said he couldn’t be more proud of his side’s performance.
“I’m so proud of the players. I said before the game I wanted to affect the game in a positive way, and I don’t think we deserved the third. That was harsh on the lads. But that’s what they do, they’re world-class players, they move you and move and move, but I’m incredibly proud. The players they brought off the bench probably tells you something. The way they celebrated their goals probably tells you something as well. They’ll know they’ve been in a game.”
City manager Pep Guardiola says in the end quality won this day.
“I didn’t have regrets even when we were 1-0 down, we had a clear chance from the first minute. When they take advantage it gets complicated but we got it to 1-1 and it was tight. We came here with humility and had the quality to make the difference.
“They used their quality in the box, they are taller and better than us there and we showed clips on how to solve it. It is difficult to control that.”
City is off to the fifth round of the FA Cup now where they will face Swansea.
The next cup tie is scheduled for February 10 at Liberty Stadium.
Man City return to Premier League action on Tuesday at The Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion.
The kickoff is at 8:15 pm. (JSL).