Nathan Ake's 88th-minute goal was enough to secure a 1-0 win over Tottenham and send City into the FA Cup fifth round.

It was a majestic performance by the Blues, who dominated large parts of an absorbing cup tie.

It had looked as though the game would end with yet another goalless trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after City registered a 102nd shot without scoring at this venue.

But Ake had other ideas, prodding home from a corner with just two minutes of normal time remaining to end a miserable run in North London and send the FA Cup holders into the next round.

What happened...

City began the game like a team determined to remain FA Cup holders for as long as possible.

Backed by a magnificent 9,000 travelling army  - on a Friday evening - the Blues’ slick passing had Tottenham chasing shadows in the opening exchanges and it looked like our long wait for a goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was over after just five minutes.

An intricate move saw Phil Foden‘s shot deflected into the path of Oscar Bobb who poked the ball home, only to see the assistant referee’s flag raised.

The VAR check agreed with the offside decision, but it was mightily close.

City continued to boss proceedings, with Mateo Kovacic outstanding and Foden, Julian Alvarez and Bernardo Silva causing endless problems.

Spurs were reduced to the occasional counter attack without causing too many nervous moments, and City had a number of half chances to find the break-through.

On 42 minutes it was Bobb again who almost opened the scoring as a shot by Kovacic fell to the Norwegian who teed himself up before seeing his shot blocked by a defender’s lunge.

The same pattern of play continued after the break and seven minutes in, a delightful cross from Bobb found Alvarez in space but his shot was deflected wide by Micky van de Ven.

It was becoming an increasingly tetchy affair, too, with Spurs enthusiastic in their challenges and City responding in kind.

Just past the hour, Pep Guardiola sent on the talisman that is Kevin De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku in a bid to find that killer pass that might make the difference.

And he almost did, as Foden robbed Pierre-Emile Højbjerg on the edge of the box and squared the ball to the unmarked De Bruyne who fired his shot inches past the post as Cristian Romero closed in.

Then Doku raced clear but couldn’t get a shot away as City passed 100 shots in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without scoring.

Then, on 87 minutes and with the game edging towards a replay at the Etihad, City won a corner which De Bruyne swung in towards the near post.

Guglielmo Vicario’s attempt at a clearance fell to Ake who prodded home from a yard out sending the Blue army wild.

Of course, VAR had to check there had been no foul on the keeper by Ruben Dias - and there hadn’t and after more than nine hours of football at this venue, City had scored a goal.

And that was enough to send the Blues into the last 16 with a thoroughly deserved victory.

TEAMS

SPURS XI:  Vicario, Porro, Romero (C), van de Ven, Udogie, Hojbjerg (Scarlett 90+1’), Bentancur (Maddison 73’), Johnson (Skipp 72’), Kulusevski, Werner, Richarlison

Unused subs: Forster, Dragusin, Gil, Royal, Davies, Santiago

CITY XI: Ortega Moreno, Walker (C), Dias,  Aké, Gvardiol, Rodrigo, Kovačić, Bernardo, Alvarez (De Bruyne 65’), Foden, Bobb (Doku 65’)

Unused subs: EdersonStones, Grealish,  Gómez, Nunes, Susoho,  Lewis

 

Man of the Match: Kovacic

Superb performance from the first minute until the last by the Croatian who dominated the midfield with a display of the highest calibre.

Immense defending and excellent going forward with his distribution top class.

His best display for City yet and it needed to be with Nathan Ake again faultless throughout.

PASS MASTERS

Not many teams leave the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium having dominated the game in almost every department.

City completed 602 passes to Spurs’ 466.

We also registered 18 shots to Tottenham’s one, five being on target in what was a 1-0 thrashing (of sorts).

And with 14 corners to the hosts’ two, the stats prove what a masterful display this was by a City side ominously shifting up through the gears.

TACTICAL MASTERCLASS

Pep Guardiola and his coaches were ready for ‘Ange Ball’ on the evidence of this clash.

The home side love to press high and keep a high line, but time and time again, when the ball was in our own box, we would simply play over the first press and into the space behind.

It was a simple but highly effective tactic that took a lot of fire out of the home side’s attack.

As a result, Tottenham found it difficult to create anything of note and, except one late magnificent tackle by skipper Kyle Walker who was also outstanding all evening, Stefan Ortega Moreno was relatively untroubled throughout a highly polished performance by the Blues.

Pep reaction

“Football is about scoring and not conceding. Our stats was really good today, but you see stats for past games when we could not win here.

“We are really pleased to win and score a goal against this team, go through and defend the title. We played really well.

“Our performance was top class. These players prove again the reason why they have done what they have done in the past.

“I know they are without Sarr, Bissouma and Maddison is coming back but they are an incredible team with physicality.

“We played with incredible personality. All the players were top otherwise we cannot do it.”

 

 

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Newcastle United FC

What it means…

City are into the last 16 of the FA Cup.

The draw for the fifth round of the 2023/24 competition will take place on the afternoon of Sunday 28 January 2024.

It will be broadcast live on ITV1 before the start of the Liverpool v Norwich City clash at approximately 14:10 (UK).

 

What’s next?

City host Burnley in the Premier League next Wednesday, 31 January .

Kick-off is 19:30 (UK) as the Blues look to keep the pressure on leaders Liverpool.

Vincent Kompany’s side have been improving in recent weeks and will hope to continue their progress at the Etihad.

 

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