Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva were in their elements as Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win over Birmingham City in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Manchester City were hot off the gates and were so relentless in their push for the win that the game was put to bed shortly after the half-hour mark. The hosts were ahead just seven minutes in, as Bernardo Silva produced a wondrous volley to find the back of the net.
Shortly after, Silva doubled his and Manchester City’s tally, as he was in the right place at the right time to tap the ball into the net from Kevin De Bruyne’s cut-back. The win was then rounded off in the 33rd minute when Phil Foden produced a neat finish to ensure Manchester City were essentially through to the FA Cup fourth round.
Post the interval, Manchester City were in cruise control mode, seeing the game out without much of a fuss, with Birmingham City only managing a few half chances. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Pep Guardiola’s men, as they progress from the third round of the FA Cup.
Zack Steffen: 6/10
With Manchester City thoroughly dominant over the course of the game, Steffen did not have a great deal to do on the day. The young goalkeeper made just a couple of saves, but was a tad bit lucky as well, having not been punished when he spilt the ball twice. Completed each of the passes he attempted, though.
Joao Cancelo: 6/10
Cancelo was a part of the game for just the first 45 minutes and he was hardly called into action by the Birmingham forwards. The Portuguese international, though, did not really get involved going forward, instead getting tucked in midfield to support Rodri. Solid performance otherwise.
Kyle Walker: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup after recovering from the effects of the coronavirus, Walker put a shift in to ensure Steffen remained largely untroubled in the game. Shifted into his usual right-back role in the second half and spent the majority of his time in central midfield, like Cancelo before him.
Ruben Dias: 7/10
It really is a testament to Dias’ fitness, as has been boasted by Guardiola, that he hardly looks in need of rest despite playing for a third time in the past week. Quite a solid display as is usually the case with him, although one rash challenge was quite uncharacteristic. Taken off at half-time for John Stones, with the game already in the bag.
Benjamin Mendy: 6/10
Returning to the side, this was Mendy’s chance to impress, considering the superb Cancelo has been an option in the left-back slot. The Frenchman, however, hardly made an impact going forward, although he did complete 93 percent of his attempted passes. Not troubled much at the back.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8/10
Kevin De Bruyne in the first half for Man City vs. Birmingham:
◉ Most chances created (4)
◉= Most accurate long balls (4)
◉ Most crosses (3)
◉ Most tackles (3)
He also assisted Bernardo Silva’s second goal. 🅰️ pic.twitter.com/9TTNWISWMd
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 10, 2021
Skipper for the day, De Bruyne was on song in the first half, creating as many as four chances while setting up Bernardo Silva for his second goal. The Belgian international just seemed to have ample time to pull the strings, slicing open the Birmingham defence with the utmost ease. Taken off at half-time for some much-needed rest.
Stationed at the base of the midfield, Rodri tightened the noose on Birmingham; so much so that the visitors struggled to even reach Manchester City’s defensive third for large parts of the game. Bar one or two nervy moments on the ball, the Spaniard hardly put a foot wrong and made a well-timed tackle to deny Birmingham.
Bernardo Silva: 9/10
The past 18 months or so have been quite frustrating for Bernardo Silva. But this was just the kind of performance he needed to produce in order to give Guardiola a pleasant selection dilemma going forward. The finish for his first goal was simply sumptuous, as he adjusted his body smartly to find the back of the net. Easy as you like for the second and even created a decent opening.
2 – Bernardo Silva has netted twice in a game for just the second time in his Manchester City career, with the previous instance coming in a hat-trick against Watford in September 2019. Kick-start. https://t.co/Kt0rgRK55E
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 10, 2021
Riyad Mahrez: 9/10
Like Silva in midfield, Mahrez was at his very best against Birmingham. The Algerian winger was in the thick of action whenever Manchester City charged forward and was heavily involved in opening up play for two of City’s goals while also engineering a couple of other fine openings. Thought he had scored one himself with a brilliant finish before being denied by the offside call.
Gabriel Jesus: 6/10
Like Walker, Jesus was deemed to have been fit enough to start. Unlike the Englishman, though, the Brazilian striker did not quite make an impact, aiming just a couple of shots on goal. Did play in a couple of key passes while hardly losing possession, which helped Manchester City heap pressure on Birmingham.
Phil Foden: 8/10
The run of starts and the top-class run of form continued for Foden, who produced a magnificent finish for his goal. Apart from that one moment, Foden was heavily involved in the action in the final third, carving open as many as three chances. Put a shift in off the ball as well, winning 4 duels and completing a tackle.
12 – Phil Foden has been directly involved in 12 goals in all competitions this season (7 goals & 5 assists), the most of any U21 player for Premier League sides. Star. pic.twitter.com/sBwf296lAd
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 10, 2021
John Stones: 7/10
On for Dias at half-time, Stones continued from where his partner had left off, with a solid display at the back, although he was a tad bit wasteful on the ball.
Felix Nmecha: 6/10
Nmecha replaced De Bruyne at the break, but with Manchester City in cruise control mode, he did not really get the chance to showcase his best skills.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis: 7/10
On for Cancelo, Harwood-Bellis slotted into the heart of the Manchester City defence and made a couple of key interventions to help preserve his side’s clean sheet.
Fernandinho replaced Rodri for the final quarter of the contest and helped see the game out.
Liam Delap: N/A
On for Jesus, Delap hardly had time to make an impact.