Manchester City booked their place in the FA Cup semi-final with a win over Middlesbrough on Saturday. Club journalist Rob Pollard looks back at some of the game's major talking points.
City were in control of this game throughout and only the brilliance of Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan saw the scoreline remain respectable for the Teesiders.
It was a slick, powerful performance which, at times, completely overwhelmed Boro. City enjoyed 69 per cent possession and registered 18 shots, 10 of which were on target.
The quality of some of City’s passing was exceptional and saw them rip through the Boro backline time and again.
They scored two superb goals. The opener came after a wonderful ball from Yaya Toure put Pablo Zabaleta in down the right, allowing the Argentine to deliver a ball into the box for David Silva to smash home, and Sergio Aguero’s close-range finish from Leroy Sane’s cross in the second half was ruthlessly efficient.
Pep Guardiola’s side have clicked going forward. There are few sides in England – or, indeed, Europe – who are as exciting to watch.
Silva shines once more
City’s Spanish magician is enjoying an extended purple patch right now.
Silva, once again, was at the heart of everything, dictating the tempo of the game and knitting City’s play together expertly.
He had 106 touches of the ball and completed 86 per cent of his passes. It was another masterclass from Merlin.
His goal was quickest City have scored this season – and he has now been directly involved in five goals in his last five FA Cup appearances (two goals, three assists).
A class act.
John Stones delivers pitch-perfect display
When Guardiola chose John Stones as his high-profile defensive signing this summer, many saw it as a match made in heaven.
Stones, a ball-playing centre-half the likes of which we rarely see come through the English youth system, had found a manager who would wholly encourage his desire to step into midfield and begin attacks with his passing quality.
And the former Everton man is clearly revelling under Guardiola's management. He demonstrated all of his technical ability at the Riverside while mixing it with a commanding defensive display, making a series of blocks, tackles and headers that kept Middlesbrough's forward line quiet.
He was key to City's win.
City have still only lost once in 2017, winning 10 and drawing three of their 14 matches in all competitions.
And they now have a date at Wembley to look forward to next month after their latest victory.
Guardiola has twice tasted success at London's most famous football venue, winning the European Cup as a Barcelona player in 1992 before returning to the new stadium as manager of the Catalan giants to win the Champions League in 2011.
He will want to maintain his unblemished record.
Tough test up next
City now travel to Monaco for a crucial Champions League last-16 tie against the free-scoring Ligue 1 leaders.
A two-goal advantage established in the first leg gives City a cushion going to the away tie but with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva in their ranks, Monaco will pose a huge threat.
City coasted to victory at Middlesbrough and conserved energy. They couldn’t have asked for better preparations ahead of what will be a difficult night on Wednesday.