Pep Guardiola's relentless squad have one foot in the Carabao Cup final after a remarkable 9-0 semi-final first-leg win. Gabriel Jesus, superb throughout, scored four, with Kevin De Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez adding to Burton’s pain. City, surely, will contest the final at Wembley at the end of February after recording the largest ever margin of victory in the semi-finals of an English cup competition and our biggest win since 1987.
Of course, context is important. City have beaten two lower league sides in quick succession, with League One Burton currently 51 places below us in the English football pyramid. But, as the old adage goes, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and City have done that emphatically over the past four days.
With Burton likely to put men behind the ball, an early goal was key, and De Bruyne provided it, heading home David Silva’s pinpoint delivery into the area to give City the lead after just five minutes.
Mahrez volleyed into the top corner – a sublime piece of skill – but it was ruled out for offside, and Jesus curled one just wide of the upright as City looked to double the advantage.
The warning signs were there; City were in ruthless mood.
We didn’t have to wait long for the second. Leroy Sane played a brilliant one-two with Ilkay Gundogan and looked likely to score but his effort was saved by Bradley Collins. Jesus, like all good strikers, was in the right place at the right time to nod the rebound into the empty net.
Jesus fired home his second moments later, finishing from close range after Silva broke the offside trap and rolled a first-time pass into his path. The referee consulted VAR – the first time the technology has been used in a City match – and correctly ruled that Silva had timed his run to perfection.
Zinchenko was next on the scoresheet, chipping Collins, who was fractionally off his line, from 30 yards - the Ukrainian’s first City goal and one he’ll never forget.
And the second-half saw much of the same, with City’s passing and movement too quick for Burton to handle. Jesus completed his second hattrick of the season with an emphatic header from Mahrez’s delicate, lofted cross, before Foden, on as a substitute, bagged his second goal in two games.
Jesus tapped home his fourth, before Walker got in the act, side-footing past Collins, who will want to put this experience behind him a quickly as possible.
7 - Manchester City are the first English league side to score at least seven goals in consecutive games in all competitions since Don Revie's Leeds United back in October 1967. Heaven. #CarabaoCup pic.twitter.com/vniTiD8jQm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 9, 2019
Mahrez, who had looked lively all evening, made it nine, before City, willed on by the home fans, went in search of double figures. Burton managed to avoid that particular milestone, but they were well beaten by a mesmerising side.
Man of the Match: Jesus
Four goals for the Brazilian, who showed desire and hunger all evening. Could have had more, such was his devastating movement that continually bought him space inside the area.
One step away from Wembley
The result almost guarantees City another EFL Cup final.
Should we get the job done at Burton in a fortnight’s time, we will find ourselves in our seventh final of all-time and our fourth in six seasons. It’s a fine record.
Last season’s success, which came after a brilliant performance in the 3-0 win over Arsenal in the final, was a significant boost for the players that helped power our record-breaking Premier League campaign.
Let’s hope for more of the same this year.
“Big congratulations to Burton for what they have done, they have beaten teams from Premier League and Championship and deserved to be here.
“We scored quickly. The difference with Premier League teams is the rhythm, when you have high intensity. Physicality is higher.
“It was important to try take advantage. We didn’t expect to score as many but it’s great. Means a lot for us.
“We spoke at half-time about playing simple. To score is best way to respect competition and the opponents.”
It’s back to Premier League action for City when Wolves are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium on Monday evening. Kick off in that one is 8pm.
The Blues are currently four points behind Liverpool at the top of the table, with Jurgen Klopp’s men taking on Brighton on Saturday at the Amex Stadium.