Manchester City Club Journalist Jack Mumford talks through the key moments and debating topics from City’s FA Youth Cup victory over Aston Villa.
Falling behind is not something City’s youngsters are used to.
City’s U18s are unbeaten since last season’s Youth Cup final second leg at Chelsea and have swept away much of the competition in the U18 Premier League this season.
So when Johan Abdoul headed Villa in to the lead on Wednesday night, City were in unfamiliar territory. If there was any doubt about the spirit of City’s side, Jadon Sancho’s immediate equaliser was an emphatic response.
Massive performance from the team tonight in a 2-1 win over Villa away from home, on to the semis now 💪🏽🔵 #MCFC— Joel (@joellati23) February 22, 2017
As City grew into the match, their dominance of the ball pushed Villa further and further back into their own half. Eventually, with Villa camped out on the edge of their own box and with only counter-attacks to worry about, City could throw more men forward.
On several occasions in the second half, a City player received the ball in a crowded penalty area and attempted to force it past a covering defender - often unsuccessfully.
As the ball fell to Matt Smith inside the box in the 87th minute, it seemed like the Welsh midfielder would be the latest to see his effort blocked. However, as he relaxed, he created a yard of space that proved pivotal in beating Viktor Johansson in the Villa goal.
View highlights of last week's U18 Premier League North trophy lift here...
Changing roles of Brahim Diaz
Diaz has started in midfield, on the wing and in the central attacking role for both the U18s and Simon Davies’ EDS side throughout the season, with some dispute as to which helps maximise his influence.
The 17-year-old was the focal point of the attack for the first hour and after two separate quick-footed moments of skill to create chances for himself that were saved well, it seemed Diaz was comfortable in his role for the evening.
Strength in depth
City played a full 11 v 11 in training on Tuesday afternoon with just players eligible for the Youth Cup - a move that demonstrates the numbers available for selection.
Carsley made several changes from the victory over Southampton in the previous round with Jeremie Frimpong, Tyreke Wilson and Luke Bolton all coming in for the Demeaco Duhaney, Sadou Diallo and Nmecha.
With such a collection of talent, the battle for places in the semi-final is sure to heat up over the coming weeks.
Bring on the semis!
Preston North End and Stoke City face off on Monday night for the right to face City.
Having already seen off Stoke twice in this U18 Premier League season and with Preston currently in mid table in the North West Youth Alliance Division, City will be confident no matter who they are to face.