REPORT: MANCHESTER CITY 5-1 TOWNHuddersfield Town bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup after a 5-1 defeat despite turning out a spirited performance in the replayed tie away at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Having taken an early lead through a Harry Bunn strike, responses from Sergio Aguero (2), Leroy Sané, Pablo Zabaleta and replacement Kelechi Iheanacho condemned the Terriers to the end of their cup campaign for the current season.
With Head Coach David Wagner serving the first game of his two-match touchline ban, assistant Head Coach Christoph Buehler manned the side-lines, with Town naming 10 of the same players that earned the replay after the 0-0 draw at the John Smith’s Stadium. The only inclusion in the starting squad which differed from the first tie saw a return for Harry Bunn after he missed nine games through injury. Nahki Wells made the bench after overcoming a knock which kept him out of the stalemate at Barnsley last time out, with Jonathan Hogg also named amongst the substitutes following his groin injury. There were no places for Isaiah Brown or Chris Loewe, who were rested for the match before the crunch game against table-topping Newcastle United next time around.
Just under 8,000 made the short journey across the Pennines to the state-of-the-art Etihad Stadium, and they must have feared the worst early on as City’s attacking prowess immediately started on the offensive.
German Leroy Sané struck the post after Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball following some neat interplay between England international Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho, before prolific dangerman Sergio Agüero outlined his intentions by firing straight at Joel Coleman shortly after.
However, the straight forward task that many of the home crowd would’ve expected took a sharp twist in the tale minutes after Sané rattled the frame of the goal. The impressive Philip Billing, who once again showed a high level of composure and finesse about his energetic midfield display, laid a perfectly weighted pass to a waiting Harry Bunn who drilled a left-footed effort under Chilean ‘keeper Claudio Bravo; sending the Town faithful at the other end of the ground into delirium.
The goal would turn out to be one of limited chances for ‘The Yorkshire Club’, with the Citizens taking a foothold in the game from here on in; but Town continued to work hard and uphold a reputation of a side who consistently battle in all areas, whilst also looking to keep the ball on the ground and maintain the ‘Terrier Identity’.
The Sky Blues side contained a healthy number of star-studded figures; and the team sitting second in England’s top flight began its onslaught on the Huddersfield goal with Kevin De Bruyne seeing his weak effort comfortably saved by Coleman. Tareiq Holmes-Dennis very nearly gifted the home side an equaliser; the left-back gave the ball away to a lurking Agüero who advanced in to the area before slotting in De Bruyne once more, only for referee Paul Tierney to wave away any appeals for a penalty following a handball shout against Jon Gorenc Stanković.
Martin Cranie was the next Town player to put his body vitally on the line, this time managing to divert Fernandinho’s goal-bound effort over the cross-bar. The following corner resulted in Nicolas Otamendi sending his header way into the travelling support in the stand behind.
Unfortunately for Town it didn’t take long for City to get back on level terms; a moment of quality from Raheem Sterling saw the winger beat his man before playing a teasing ball across the face of goal, which Leroy Sané tapped in to an empty net ensuring that a test of Town resolve to ensure the scores remained level would be severely stretched to the maximum.
The resolve which Town required would be diminished shortly after the first City goal arrived; Jon Gorenc Stanković was adjudged to be the guilty after felling Otamendi in the area. There was to be no problems from the spot for Argentinian forward Agüero as he nudged the Sky Blues in front.
A tough eight minutes for the Terriers would be topped off another Manchester City attempt finding the net, with Agüero this time turning provider at the second bite of the cherry to square for an un-marked Pablo Zabaleta, who duly doubled the home sides advantage.
Jack Payne had a glorious chance to reduce arrears just before the interval after being slotted in by the tenacious Collin Quaner, but the ex-Southend man saw his effort thwarted by Bravo.
After a flurry of goals within the first period, proceedings would begin to settle down; the introduction of Rajiv van La Parra proving that the Town intent was positive, supported by Collin Quaner’s surge in to the box in which he would be brought down. The man with the whistle would again wave away any claims of a spot-kick; all this coming after Joe Lolley spurned a golden chance to haul the Terriers back into the contest after nodding over the bar from close range.
The second period’s good note for Town saw Jonathan Hogg return to action following his injury set-back.
However, the score-line would have a cruel look about it come the final whistle.
Sterling showed his class once again by delivering a tantalising ball to the front post for Agüero who swept home for his brace, before substitutes Jesús Navas and Kelechi Iheanacho would combine in a similar fashion to ensure the Terriers would feel slightly deflated after putting in a determined performance which the four-goal margin of victory didn’t provide any justice.
Town's Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Joel Coleman; Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Mark Hudson (c), Martin Cranie; Philip Billing (Jonathan Hogg, 67’), Dean Whitehead; Harry Bunn (Rajiv van La Parra, 54’), Jack Payne, Joe Lolley (Tommy Smith, 61’); Collin Quaner
Danny Ward, Elias Kachunga, NahkI Wells, Michael Hefele
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