Guardiola heartened by glimpse of City's future
Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 3
Pep Guardiola has worn the look of a manager in desperate need of a lift in recent weeks. It came at Selhurst Park, in the performances of Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane whose youthful vigour provided a welcome distraction from Manchester City's Premier League troubles and helped steer Guardiola's side one step closer towards a first Wembley final for the manager.
Jesus in particular impressed. The forward will take time to settle into his new life at the Etihad Stadium, but the teenager is already demonstrating why City paid Palmeiras £27 million for him.
An offside flag denied Jesus a debut goal when he appeared as a substitute in last weekend's draw with Tottenham Hotspur, but yesterday the 19-year-old produced a perfectly-weighted through ball to set up Raheem Sterling for the 43rd-minute opening goal. A second goal from Sane midway through the second half - from an opening that was created in part by an intelligent run from Jesus - and an added time free-kick from Yaya Toure completed the win.
City might have endured more of a test if, as Palace manager Sam Allardyce insisted, Toure had been handed a second yellow card midway through the first half. As it was, with his side currently lying outside the Champions League places and 12 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea, Guardiola had every reason to be satisfied with his side's progress into the fifth round that came with the additional bonus of Vincent Kompany emerging unscathed from his first appearance since November.
"Jesus helped us a lot," said Guardiola. "He is so aggressive. He isn't a tall guy, he doesn't speak English, but he is tough. He will need time but his assist for the first goal was outstanding. We cannot forget we played with three young strikers. This is the future for Manchester City. All three played really good."
For Allardyce, however, this marked yet another defeat since he took charge at Palace, although the manager had made it clear his priority is Tuesday's league trip to Bournemouth. The failure of referee Michael Jones to send off Toure did not help but the manager was more frustrated by his side's poor defending as well as the loss of left-back Jeff Schlupp to a hamstring injury. "They should have been down to 10 men," said Allardyce. "Jordon Mutch had been booked for much less a couple of minutes before. So the referee has not done his job for me on that incident. But I'm much more concerned about the goals we are conceding at the moment, rather than the referee."
Guardiola's side dominated the opening stages and were simply too strong.
When Jesus released Sterling beyond Schlupp, allowing the England forward to tuck the ball under Wayne Hennessey, they stayed in control.
Silva capped a strong run with the 71st-minute pass that found Sane, who ran into the space vacated by Jesus to collect the Spaniard's delivery and mirror Sterling's finish.
With the game effectively over, Toure curled a free-kick over the defensive wall for the third. (Telegraph)