We exited the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage after Nathan Ake’s 64th-minute goal proved to be the difference in an evenly-fought cup tie at Etihad Stadium.
The defender popped up inside the box to tuck home a low effort to send his team into the next round, but our much-changed side more than held their own throughout at the home of the reigning Premier League champions.
In fact, we could easily have gone into half-time in front with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard forcing City keeper Stefan Ortega into decent saves. Ultimately we couldn’t find the goal that would have kept us in the competition.
Trossard impresses on first start
The opening half was as closely fought as you'd expect from the teams occupying the first two positions in the Premier League, and it was Ortega who was forced into the first good save of the game after just four minutes.
Trossard cut inside from the left and picked out Tomiyasu who had charged up from the back, but the German keeper pushed his well-hit drive away.
Our Japanese defender found himself in the right place at the right time again soon after when Erling Haaland galloped forward and was well slide-tackled by Matt Turner. The Norwegian hitman used his long limbs to conjure up a bicycle kick from the rebound, which Tomiyasu cleared away from the empty net.
But back we came again through Trossard, who continued to look lively. The Belgian cut inside from the left to the edge of the area and let fly, and once again Ortega was forced to dive across his goal to push the attempt away from danger.
City’s threat was always evident and, with Haaland and Rob Holding enjoying a good physical battle throughout the opening 45, it was a bit of magic rather than muscle that produced their best chance of the half. Kevin de Bruyne drifted inside and bent a trademark shot fractions wide of the far post as both teams went into the break ruing missed opportunities.
Hosts grab the only goal
Having struggled to test Turner in the opening 45, Guardiola sent on Julian Alvarez and the World Cup winner made an instant impact as he began the move that led to the opener after 64 minutes.
The striker picked the ball up 25 yards out and thumped a vicious shot off the base of the post, which spun out to Jack Grealish. He wriggled his way into the box and drew in a couple of defenders, allowing him to nudge the ball to an unmarked Ake who slid a shot precisely into the bottom corner.
We responded encouragingly and only some fine defending from Aymeric Laporte prevented Eddie Nketiah from tucking home Granit Xhaka's delicious cross - the Spanish international just getting a stud to the ball to deflect it out of our in-form striker’s path.
We continued to press for an equaliser but despite getting into the City box a few times in the final stages, there were no more clear-cut opportunities as the City defence held firm to claim victory.
What it means
We exit the FA Cup at the fourth round stage, leaving us to concentrate on the Premier League, as well as the Europa League, which returns in March.
We face Everton at Goodison Park next Saturday, before hosting Brentford at home the following weekend. Then we lock horns with City again - this time in the league, on Wednesday, February 15.
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