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Ream red makes it easy for City as Guardiola's men tune up for derby rematch

Manchester City 4 Fulham 0

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Bernardo Silva (right) celebrates with Riyad Mahrez after scoring Manchester City’s second goal. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Bernardo Silva (right) celebrates with Riyad Mahrez after scoring Manchester City’s second goal. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Bernardo Silva (right) celebrates with Riyad Mahrez after scoring Manchester City’s second goal. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola could not have asked for a more gentle, routine warm-up ahead of the second leg of Manchester City's Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester United.

The City manager is an advocate of FA Cup replays being scrapped to ease fixture congestion and the workload on players but, on recent evidence in this competition, the holders should probably not worry too much about being taken to a second game.

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Eric Garcia of Manchester City and Josh Onomah of Fulham battle for the ball. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Eric Garcia of Manchester City and Josh Onomah of Fulham battle for the ball. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Eric Garcia of Manchester City and Josh Onomah of Fulham battle for the ball. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There was certainly fat chance of that here once Tim Ream had been sent off after all of six minutes, paving the way for Guardiola's team to rack up another landslide of Cup goals.

City have now won 19 consecutive domestic cup matches, since losing to Wigan Athletic in February 2018. "I think 11 versus 11 would have been a tough game, but 10 versus 11 and after scoring one or two goals, it was easy in terms of not conceding chances," Guardiola admitted.

He was able to rest Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho and Ederson with a clear eye on Wednesday night and watched the stand-ins make the lightest of work of a Fulham team who barely had a hope once Ream departed.

Laporte was feeling fatigued after his first start for almost five months, against Sheffield United last Tuesday, following knee surgery and Guardiola said he would have to wait to see how the France centre-half reacts over the next 48 hours before deciding whether he will be ready to face United. "Right now I don't know when he'll be able to play," Guardiola said. "If he is not ready he is not going to play."

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Manchester City's English midfielder Phil Foden (C) is held back by Fulham's Norwegian midfielder Stefan Johansen (R). Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP via Getty Images

Manchester City's English midfielder Phil Foden (C) is held back by Fulham's Norwegian midfielder Stefan Johansen (R). Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP via Getty Images

Manchester City's English midfielder Phil Foden (C) is held back by Fulham's Norwegian midfielder Stefan Johansen (R). Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP via Getty Images

Discussing that issue was the most anxious he looked all afternoon.

Credit to Fulham, they made City wait until the final 18 minutes before claiming a third goal after it looked like the home side might run riot in the first half once Bernardo Silva added to Ilkay Gundogan's penalty following Ream's dismissal. Plenty of teams would have folded before then.

City had scored 25 goals across Guardiola's previous FA Cup home ties going into this one, so the challenge facing the Championship high fliers was obvious.

What they absolutely did not need was to go a man down when some fans were still taking to their seats.

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"The plan and preparation you do goes out of the window after six minutes," Fulham boss Scott Parker said.

Ream deliberately hacked down Gabriel Jesus after David Silva had craftily knocked on Gundogan's pass to release the Brazilian in behind the Fulham captain.

Kevin Friend will not have an easier penalty decision to make all season and, since Ream had made no attempt to play the ball, the referee was correct to also brandish a red card. "Tim is obviously devastated," Parker added.

There was no chance of Jesus being entrusted with the spot-kick, after his miss in midweek against Sheffield United, and Guardiola - who said he had settled on a new penalty-taker after his side's latest failure from 12 yards - was relieved to see Gundogan bury the ball in the bottom corner.

"He's one of the [new] takers," Guardiola said of the Germany midfielder.

"If you see his statistics from the last years, even when he played for Borussia Dortmund and the national team, his average is so high. It's how they handle stability under pressure and Gundo in these terms is so, so good."

And so began one of the longer exercises in damage limitation. It could have got ugly once Bernardo was granted the freedom of Manchester to turn on the edge of the penalty area and fire home after a slick City move. But Parker switched to a 5-3-1 formation at half-time, with striker Bobby Decordova-Reid deputising in defence, and Fulham hung in there.

It helped that Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling all missed good chances, but tired Fulham legs eventually gave way to sloppiness as they were twice punished, in quick succession, trying to play out from the back. Parker admitted that, sometimes, needs must, and his players had to be wilier in certain moments but he was also pleased they refused to "sit on the sword and wait for a slow death" by booting it long.

Still, they shot themselves in the foot towards the end. For Jesus's first goal, Reid overran the ball from Marek Rodak's goal kick and lost possession. Sterling tapped the ball back to Joao Cancelo and the City right-back crossed for Jesus to head home.

Three minutes later, it was 4-0. This time, Hector was caught by Jesus on the edge of his penalty area trying to be too clever. Silva picked up the ball and found Foden, whose shot was saved before Jesus nodded in the rebound. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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