Mens Team

The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins

The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins
As the final whistle rang out at Prenton Park on Wednesday afternoon the curtain came down on a remarkable six days for Manchester City.

Quite simply, it could not have gone any better for the Club, with six games yielding six wins and two trophies.

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It began with our Under-18s and a comfortable 4-0 FA Youth Cup semi-final victory over Blackburn Rovers and ended with our women’s first team easing past Liverpool in the Continental Cup.

In between there was the small matter of a second consecutive Women’s FA Cup triumph and a long-awaited FA Youth Cup win and whilst there was no silverware on offer for our men’s first team, there could be no complaints as we saw off Sheffield United and Olympiakos.

Here, we recall the joy of six…

City 4-0 Blackburn Rovers

FA Youth Cup semi-final - Friday 30 October

Resuming our 2019/20 FA Youth Cup campaign after an eight-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, City’s youngsters secured our fifth final appearance in six years in fine style.

With the tournament’s denouement being staged on neutral ground at the FA’s St George’s Park HQ, it meant there was an air of unfamiliarity about the surroundings.

However, there was no mistaking City’s trademark quality and professionalism as our Under-18s picked up our FA Youth Cup campaign right where we had left off in March… in hugely impressive winning fashion.

Blackburn, coached by former City striker Mike Sheron, proved obdurate and resolute opponents – but Carlos Vicens’ young charges married our trademark technical prowess and skill alongside patience and focus to great effect.

WATCH: Blackburn U18s 0-4 City U18s: Highlights

A City side featuring a trio boasting first team experience in Cole Palmer, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Liam Delap enjoyed the lion’s share of both possession and territory.

And it was no less than City deserved when impressive holding midfielder Joe Hodge struck from 30 yards to break the deadlock midway through the first half.

There was a brief scare when Rovers’ striker Liam Brennan headed over the bar when unmarked in the box.

That apart, City ‘keeper James Trafford was a virtual passenger all evening – and our pressure and intensity gained their just rewards when Blackburn’s resistance was finally eroded in a decisive final 10 minutes that brought three further goals.


                        The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins

First, Cole Palmer’s short free-kick caught the opposition unaware and allowed him to play a teasing ball across goal for Delap to smash home from six-yards.

The impressive James McAtee then put the game beyond doubt as he calmly converted from the edge of the area and two minutes later, Jayden Braaf sealed the deal.

The Dutch winger seized on an errant Rovers pass before slotting into the bottom corner to round off a convincing victory – and earn City the prize of a place in the final against Chelsea.


                        The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins

What they said:

Liam Delap: "It was a tough game for the first 80 minutes, but once we got the first goal we knew we could get the ball out wide and play aggressive and we ended up scoring three goals from it.

"When the competition got rescheduled in lockdown we were just waiting to get started again because we know we’ve got a good chance of winning it. Now we just need to push on in the final and hopefully win."

Carlos Vicens: "Being in a Youth Cup final is an unbelievable achievement for these players. They were really sad at the end of last season when we went into lockdown and they were so close to being in the final.

“[It was] great news from the FA to finalise the competition and they were super excited and motivated. In terms of motivation there is no job to do there.

Key stat:

This was City’s fifth FA Youth Cup semi-final victory in the past six years – a remarkable record of consistency - and earned us a fourth meeting with final opponents Chelsea.

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Sheffield United 0-1 City

Premier League - Saturday 31 October

After our finest performance of the season so far away in Marseille four days earlier, City fans wanted to see three points secured and a continuation of the pass-and-move masterclass we saw in France.

We didn’t quite reach the heights of the Stade Velodrome, but we again controlled the game, enjoying 66 percent possession and winning 1-0 against a side known for making life difficult for the best teams.

Kyle Walker’s drilled effort from outside the area was the difference, a fine goal from arguably our best player so far this term.

The win moved us up to eighth in the table. Momentum, it feels, is finally building.

WATCH: Sheff United 0-1 City: Short highlights

Goals in the Premier League have been hard to come by for City. Usually free-flowing and decisive inside the final third, without our two main strikers for much of the season, we’ve scored just nine goals in our six games.

But the big positive to emerge has been our defensive stability.

We have been limiting the opposition to very few clear-cut chances and at Bramhall Lane it was the same.

With Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte impressing at centre-half, and with Walker in the form of his life at full-back, Guardiola appears to have assembled a backline with solidity and ball-playing quality – his ideal combination.

WATCH: Walker: Here's to another City 100!

What they said:

Kyle Walker: "I'm happy to get on the scoresheet and obviously happy to get the three points, which was the main thing coming up here. My mum and dad live here, so if I'd celebrated I'd have got a lot of stick. I'm a Sheffield United fan, so I couldn't celebrate!

Pep Guardiola: "We played very well. We struggled for goals given the chances we created. It was a lot against this team. They had one clear chance, no more than that. It was our third game away in seven days, so we are in a better position now, two games before an international break.”

Key stat:

The win means we are unbeaten in six away Premier League games.

English Premier League
9 Arsenal Arsenal 7 4 0 3 9 7 2 12 LWLLW
10 Manchester City Man City 6 3 2 1 9 8 1 11 LDWDW
11 Newcastle United Newcastle 7 3 2 2 10 11 -1 11 DWLDW

Everton 1-3 City (AET)

Women’s FA Cup - Sunday 1 November

Wembley witnessed history in the making once again in the 50th edition of the Women’s FA Cup Final, as City retained the trophy for the first time, becoming the first side to do so since 2014.

Extra-time was required to achieve the feat – just to add to the drama – with substitute Georgia Stanway snatching the crucial goal with nine minutes remaining, before Janine Beckie sealed the tie in the final minute of the additional 30.

Despite City opening the scoring through a thumping Sam Mewis header, it had started to look like Everton’s day after Valerie Gauvin had levelled for the Toffees, as the holders struck the woodwork three times in normal time.

WATCH: Women's FA Cup Final highlights: Everton 1-3 City (AET)

A penalty shoot-out beckoned but City somehow found another gear in extra-time, energised by our impactful substitutions, grasping every ounce of desire, strength and will to find the elusive winner to edge what had been a thoroughly enthralling encounter.

The clash marked the finale of what would be an historic tournament in its own right with City’s 2019/20 FA Cup campaign having begun all the way back in January with a Manchester Derby victory over United.

The COVID-19 pandemic had halted proceedings in March at the quarter-final stage but FIFA granted special dispensation for the competition to continue (with a second tournament also to take place in 2020/21) – and so, City resumed our defence of the trophy in September.

WATCH: Janine Beckie: Winning was the only option

Victories over Leicester and Arsenal had booked our place in the Final and having held the trophy for 547 days since lifting it in May 2019, the holders had the chance to keep our name emblazoned on the silverware for an unusually long time.

The added incentive of the chance to make history once again provided an added boost and at long last, luck favoured the holders, as Stanway’s poked effort from teenager Jess Park’s through-ball bounced the right side of the post and in!

Cue: jubilant celebrations – sheer joy and relief! City were nine minutes away from successfully defending the trophy for the first time.

All we had to do was hold on but the holders had other ideas and Beckie added gloss to the scoreline with the last kick of the game, coolly converting into the bottom corner to ensure City were FA Cup Winners once more, handing Taylor his first trophy as manager – two months into the job!

What they said:

Gareth Taylor: “It means everything. It’s a mix of emotions at the moment. It’s not sunk in. I am really proud. This reinforces the message: we want to make history. It’s a challenge for the players to now do what other clubs have done and win the FA Cup three years in a row.

“I think it can be a springboard. This is my ninth game and four of those have been in cups. This gives us a platform to push on. I expect us to compete. City have a reputation: we fight to the end, and we’ll fight in all competitions.

“Desire and will got us through. It was a tough situation to be in. We kept knowing on the door and it eventually came. The collective will of the team was top class.”

Key stats:

Skipper Steph Houghton followed in the footsteps of former England captains Bryan Robson and John Terry in lifting the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium three times.

Georgia Stanway's strike marked her 50th career goal - 48 for City and two for England.

CITY 3-2 Chelsea

FA Youth Cup final - Monday 2 November

History was not on Manchester City’s side heading into the 2020 FA Youth Cup final.

It was 12 years since we had last won the trophy, a period in which Chelsea had established themselves as the preeminent force at this level, beating us in the showpiece game on three successive occasions between 2015 and 2017.

Even when it was Liverpool standing between us and cup glory in 2019, a penalty shootout defeat made it feel like it was just not meant to be for our Academy outfit.

WATCH: Highlights: City 3-2 Chelsea

In the 18 months since Cole Palmer missed the decisive spot-kick that day, the midfielder has become one of four players from a generation hailed by Pep Guardiola to have made their first team debut and the 18-year-old justified the praise as he grasped his shot at cup final redemption with both hands.

It was Palmer who tapped in at the far post 10 minutes from time to settle a tightly contested game in which some of England’s finest youngsters proved their mettle as much as their talent.

City had to dig in against a Chelsea side who fought for the right to play on the foot and who took the lead when Marcel Lewis breached the offside trap and rounded Cieran Slicker for a tap in.

WATCH: Watch our U18s lift the FA Youth Cup!

Carlos Vicens’ side responded through James McAtee’s smart finish and were in the ascendancy when Morgan Rogers converted Liam Delap’s cross early in the second half.

Before kick-off Taylor Harwood-Bellis had spoken of the special bond between this group of players and their collective spirit was evident when Lewis’ shot hit the centre-half in the face to wrong-foot Slicker and level the score.

It was a moment which suggested Lady Luck was smiling on Chelsea, but in an end to end finale, City refused to sink under the weight of history and when Delap’s saved effort rebounded kindly for Palmer, he smashed home to spark wild celebrations at St George’s Park.

WATCH: Doyle: This was so important

What they said:

Pep Guardiola: “I thought their performance was outstanding. They showed so much courage and personality – not just in the final but throughout the competition.”

Jason Wilcox: “There’s so much talent in there - really technical players who understand the game and what we expect of them. But they’re also a team. They work incredibly hard and they all have each other’s back. It’s a really good group.”

Carlos Vicens: “I’m happy for the players, the Academy and the Club. It’s a big day, the Spaniard reflected. We lost so any finals before, but we felt this was our moment and it was.”

Key stat:

In the last decade, one of City or Chelsea has been in the FA Youth Cup final on nine occasions. The only time either team failed to reach the showpiece game was 2010-11, when Manchester United beat Sheffield United.

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City 3-0 Olympiakos

Champions League - Tuesday 3 November

City moved to within a point of progressing to the Champions League Round of 16 with a third consecutive Group C victory.

Olympiakos were forced to cling on during a first half that was one-way traffic, but by the break, City’s only reward was a 12th-minute Ferran Torres goal – beautifully executed after an exchange of passes with Kevin De Bruyne.

That slender advantage allowed a chink of like for the Greek champions, who were better in the second-half and threatened to draw level on a couple of occasions before Pep Guardiola decided to shuffle his pack.

WATCH: City 3-0 Olympiakos: Short highlights

The introduction of Gabriel Jesus quickly paid dividends, with the Brazilian striker marking his return from a six-week lay-off with a thunderous angled shot into the roof of the next on 81 minutes to secure victory.

And Joao Cancelo supplied the icing on the cake as he cut past a challenge on the edge of the box before curling a beauty past the keeper from 20 yards to make it 3-0 and leave City looking pretty at the top of Group C with three games remaining.

WATCH: Torres relishing striker opportunity

What they said:

Pep Guardiola: “Overall in the first half, we played really good in all aspects; the way we pressed, the way we played, but unfortunately the finishing, the last pass, the last shot wasn't perfect.

“But in general, the first half and the last 15 minutes was really good. The way we played the chances we created we had to score more. We created chances and then at the end when Gabriel scored, the game was over.”

Shaun Wright-Phillips: “We took our foot of the pedal at bit at the start of the second half, the pressing slowed down until the substitutions. It’s great to have Jesus back. He shows you what we’ve missed, it was only half a chance. At that time that he scored, it was an important time to relieve some of the pressure off us."

Gabriel Jesus: “It’s so good for me to be back. When I got injured I wasn’t happy, I worked a lot to recover quickly because I want to be on the pitch and helping my teammates. The guys have done so well and I’m so happy to come back and score a goal.”

Key stats:

The last time City recorded three consecutive clean sheets was 14 months ago - and since our 5-2 defeat to Leicester, have conceded just three goals in eight matches.”

Aged 20 years and 248 days, Ferran Torres is the third-youngest player in Champions League history to score in four consecutive appearances, behind Kylian Mbappe (18y 120d) and Erling Haaland (19y 107d).

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Liverpool 0-3 City

Continental Cup group stage - Wednesday 4 November

City rounded off our perfect week in emphatic fashion, storming to a 3-0 Continental Cup group stage win at Liverpool.

Riding the crest of the wave from Sunday’s Women’s FA Cup Final triumph, Taylor’s side produced a professional and clinical display to lift ourselves top of Group C with one game remaining.

In the midst of a hectic fixture schedule, Taylor opted to make eight changes to the side that lined up at Wembley but there was no dip in quality – particularly evident with our sensational opener at Prenton Park.


                        The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins

It was a goal crafted by Liverpool legends, as Gemma Bonner floated an inch-perfect delivery to Laura Coombs. The midfielder’s touch was exquisite, as she controlled the ball beautifully with the outside of her boot, flicking it into her path.

Letting the ball bounce for the ideal moment, she struck a wonderful half-volley past Rylee Foster and into the top corner. It was a real moment of magic and the squad showed their appreciation for it, rushing to celebrate with Coombs, who was equally delighted!

Up until that point, City had struggled to break down a stoic Reds defence, despite dominating the first half.


                        The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins

The tie was effectively secured seven minutes after the break, as half-time substitute Rose Lavelle netted her second goal for the Club, having opened her account in our previous Conti Cup triumph over Everton.

The United States star slid home Lucy Bronze’s delivery to put the game beyond Liverpool’s reach.

City pushed for more – and should have been awarded a penalty when Ellen White was upended – but would have to wait until injury time to add icing to the cake.

In-form teenager Jess Park, who grabbed the all-important assist for Georgia Stanway’s strike at Wembley, ensured she remains the talk of the town, sweeping in a third in injury-time to cap another impressive display and wonderful week for the Club.


                        The joy of six: City's remarkable run of wins

What they said:

Laura Coombs: “I’ll be watching that goal back a few times! I’m really happy and proud of it! We were really happy on Sunday. We’d had a mixed start but hopefully, that will kickstart our season.

“The goals are starting to come now and I fully believe we can kick on after our FA Cup win and do really good things."

Key stats:

The clash marked City’s 200th game since we relaunched as a professional outfit in 2014.

Karen Bardsley made her 100th City appearance for the Club, while Janine Beckie clocked her 50th.

FA WSL Cup
1 Manchester City Man City 3 2 1 0 6 1 5 7 WWLL
2 Everton Everton 3 2 0 1 3 3 0 6 LDD
3 Liverpool Liverpool 3 1 0 2 3 5 -2 3 DLD
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