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Media Watch: Bernardo - This season can be special

The advent of the March international break has afforded Manchester City a welcome breather after an intense run of fixtures.

But before jetting off on Euro 2020 qualifying duty with Portugal, Blues’ midfielder Bernardo Silva both reflected on our epic 3-2 FA Cup quarter-final win at Swansea and looked ahead to the defining last two months of the season with City still in the mix to win an unprecedented four trophies

And the Independent’s Rob Stewart reports on how the 24-year-old – fresh from penning a new long-term contract with the Club last week – believes the squad could be on the cusp of creating “something special” and making “history”.

Stewart reports: “All the players feel that this season can be special,” Bernardo declared. “Last season was special in the way we won the Premier League; this season can be special because we've already won one competition, we’re still playing for three. 

“We can win three or lose all of them as well, so it will be very tough, so yeah, we know that the last month-and-a-half will be very tough

READ: Pep 'praying' for his players safe return

WATCH: Bernardo - Everything is possible!

“It will be crucial, to make something special and to try to write an important page in the history of this club, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

“Silva and his colleagues could be forgiven for feeling bullish after a jolt in Swansea.

"They were on the brink of an Cup exit as they trailed the Championship side until the Portuguese international kept their four-pronged push for honours on track, scoring City’s first before setting up Sergio Aguero’s late winner.

“It’s very important to win these kinds of games as well, not only the games you win four or five-nil, but these games where you have to show character,” Silva added.

“We could have been out after arriving at half-time losing 2-0, so we have to keep our focus, knowing our opponents are very strong. In the FA Cup semi-finals it’s one game, anything can happen against very strong opponents.”

SPOT ON: Sergio levels it with his penalty as the Blues step up our second half comeback

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Swansea v City: Extended highlights

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Meanwhile in the Manchester Evening News, Simon Bajkowski said the manner of City’s thrilling second half fightback at the Liberty Stadium demonstrated once again that the Blues possess character and grit in abundance.

And the MEN scribe believes those qualities – allied to the Blues’ skill and all-round quality - could make all the difference over the defining last two months of the season.

Bajkowski writes: “City manager Pep Guardiola will have been thrilled to see his side come back fighting for the second time in a month.

“All seemed lost against Schalke before moments of quality from Leroy Sane and Ederson completed an unlikely turnaround. At the Liberty Stadium, Bernardo Silva's brilliance - coupled with the three substitutes - inspired another big win.

“It's hard to think of too many standout team performances since the demolition of Chelsea back on February 10 but it's hard to quibble with the eight straight victories that have followed.

“When the City boss looks for improvement from his players, there is now well more than one example of them showing the kind of fighting character that can be the difference between winning titles and coming up short.

READ: City to play Brighton in FA Cup semi-final

WATCH: Inside City Episode 333

“Even if they don't, it is enough to Guardiola that they are battled back more than once from perilous positions to remain in contention for an unbelievable four trophies with a maximum of 15 games to go.”

The Blues reward for Saturday’s victory is a semi-final clash at Wembley against Premier League rivals Brighton and Hove Albion next month.

And the Daily Mirror’s Neil McLeman reports how Seagulls boss Chris Hughton is relishing the challenge of the tackling the Blues and is bullish about his side’s chances.

McLeman writes: “Albion won through to the last four of the competition for the first time since 1983 by winning away to another second-tier club, Millwall, on penalties after a 2-2 draw — and were rewarded with a Wembley semi against the hot favourites.

“Boss Hughton, who won the FA Cup twice with Tottenham as a player, said: “Yes, of course we can upset the odds.

“All three other teams (Wolves face Watford in the other semi) probably didn’t want to play Man City but we are so pleased to go through and if we don’t think we can win, there is no point going into the tie.

“They are one of the best teams in the world and going for four competitions. But as it was showed today – and yesterday – teams can get close and you can get upsets. If they don’t have one of their better days, who knows what can happen?”

NICK CUSHING: The manager was pleased with what he saw

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Cushing praise for two-goal Stanway impact

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It was also a cup weekend to remember for Nick Cushing’s Manchester City, with BBC Sport online describing how the Blues also sealed our place in the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals after a 3-0 quarter-final triumph over Liverpool.

The BBC reflected: "Manchester City Women remain on course for a treble after two Georgia Stanway goals helped them overcome Liverpool to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

"Janine Beckie fired home from close range to put City ahead at the break. Substitute Stanway made it 2-0 with a neat finish and added a third late on to ensure City progressed to the last four for the fifth successive year.

"City, who are top of the Women's Super League, won the League Cup in February after beating Arsenal in the final.

READ: City 3-0 Liverpool | Women's FA Cup quarter-final verdict 

WATCH: Georgia Stanway's Barrow escape

"Seven spots and 25 points separate the two sides in the Women's Super League table, but Manchester City were made to work hard in the first half.

"Beckie finished what was a rare chance in the opening 45 minutes for the hosts, swapping passes with Caroline Weir in the box before firing into the roof of the net.

"Rinsola Babajide was a constant menace for Liverpool, with the striker producing their finest moment of the game with a dipping shot from outside the box that tested Karen Bardsley in City's goal.

"It took just three minutes for Stanway to make an impact after replacing Beckie, racing into the box to meet a pass from Nikita Parris before slipping the ball past Anke Preuss.

"A fiercely-stuck third from Stanway was the pick of the goals and sent City into Monday's draw in fine style."


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All the latest City news and opinion from across this morning's back pages.