A second half goal from Sergio Aguero was enough as Manchester City crept past Sheffield Wednesday to reach the quarter final of the FA Cup. The Argentine striker got free from his marker seven minutes into the second half to score the only goal and meant City avoided another fifth round banana skin.
The blues went out at the same stage two years ago to Wigan Athletic and after a goalless first half, in which City went close a few times and also hit the bar, Wednesday must have felt like luck was on their side.
City made a few changes to the team that won the League Cup on Sunday, most notably Phil Foden dropping to the bench and Joao Cancelo getting a start, while manager Pep Guardiola took the unusual step of playing Gabriel Jesus alongside Aguero.
The blues found themselves up against a stubborn Wednesday defence and were made to work hard for their win and failed to record a single shot on goal throughout the first half despite the huge amount of possession. City pressed forward in the first half, forcing the home side to play deep and barely move out of their own half. And when the defence and keeper were finally beaten by a Nicolas Otamendi header, the blues were denied by the woodwork as the Argentine’s header thumped against the crossbar and cleared by the defence.
With no replay and penalties looming if the score remained stalemate, City upped the tempo in the second half, and were denied by the woodwork again soon after the restart. David Silva played in Benjamin Mendy and the left-back’s powerful shot struck the bar and away for a goal kick.
A goal was coming and when it did, there was a bit of fortune attached it. Aguero turned brilliantly and hit a left foot shot that was parried by Wildsmith, but the keeper could only look on in horror as the ball bounced down and into the goal. There was a hint of offside against the striker, but VAR playing no part, the goal was given without any delay.
The blues continued to press and had plenty of opportunities to put the tie to bed and give the travelling fans a reason to relax, but Wildsmith came to Wednesday’s rescue time and again, saving from Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva, but City just couldn’t make their possession count. Aguero came off to be replaced by Raheem Sterling and there looked to be an angry exchange between the striker and Guardiola, with the boss seeming animated and agitated about the striker, but the incident was laughed off by Aguero after the match.
And the home side got a sniff of goal late on when Jesus was disposed near the City penalty area and the cross was whipped in, only for the onrushing striker to fail to make contact.
In fairness, it would have been more than Wednesday deserved after failing to get a solitary shot on target and keeper Claudio Bravo wasn’t tested.
City will face a sterner test in the quarter final as they were drawn away at Newcastle, but will be confident of reaching another semi-final as they attempt to secure back-to-back FA Cups for the first time in their history.
Final Score: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Manchester City