Manchester City overcame a potential banana skin at Peterborough on Tuesday night as the blues beat Posh 2-0 at the Weston Homes Stadium. Second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish sent City into the quarter-finals, but they had to work hard to break down a stubborn and determined home defence.
Manager Pep Guardiola named a strong line-up for the fifth-round tie at Posh, with Grealish, Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho all starting, while Oleksandr Zinchenko was handed the captain’s armband on the night as he took his place at left back. Nathan Ake started in the centre of defence alongside Ruben Dias, although both were substituted at half-time for John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.
It was only the second time the blues had met Peterborough in their history, with the first ever meeting coming in the FA Cup fifth round in 1981. City were 12th in the first division, while Posh were sitting 6th in the fourth division and it was a solitary goal from Tommy Booth just before half-time that won the match and sent City through. Ironically, the next match that City played in 1981 was a home league match against Manchester United, which the blues won 1-0.
And, just in that match, the home side caused City a few problems with Ederson called into action to save from Jeando Fuchs and Borough looked to frustrate City at every opportunity. The blues raided forward time and again, with Zinchenko having a couple of shots from range. The Ukraine international was given another rapturous welcome by the home support and he seemed determined to get himself on the scoresheet but failed to bring his shooting boots with him.
His first effort went well wide, while his second flew over the bar, much to the delight of the home support. City continued to use the wings well, although Mahrez didn’t look too comfortable on a patch of the ground that was almost threadbare inside the final third.
City forced corner after corner but couldn’t find a way past the wall of blue that had established itself in front of the blues. The home side weren’t prepared to let City dictate all the play and there were a few uncomfortable moments in the blues defence. Fuchs forced Ederson into a smart save at his near post as the crowd, and the TV commentating team, roared the home side on.
The blues continued to toil in the second half, but gradually pushed the home side back further into their own half, and there was no huge surprise when City took the lead. Phil Foden looked to have lost the ball but did incredibly well to get a toe on it and direct a pass to Mahrez.
City’s top scorer at little options in front of him but managed to curl a shot through the legs of the defender and beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner. The goal deflated the home side and City looked on course for a place in the last eight.
Mahrez had an opportunity to make it 2-0 moments later but fired high and wide after being put through by Foden. It was left to Grealish to finish the scoring and put the blues through in the 67th minute. Foden’s inch-perfect pass over the top of the Posh defence found Grealish, and the former Villa man controlled with his first touch, before providing the finish with his first ever FA Cup goal.
Ederson was called into action again to make another save, while Aymeric Laporte missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 when he sent a chance wide with the goal at his mercy.
By this point, the blues were already home and dry and now await the quarter-final draw on Thursday.
Final Score: Peterborough United 0-2 Manchester City