Ten-man Fulham were eliminated from the Emirates FA Cup by Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
An İlkay Gündoğan penalty in the opening ten minutes gave the hosts an early lead. A second was added ten minutes later by Bernardo Silva & with ten men we battled to stem the tide against a high powered City outfit. A quickfire double from Gabriel Jesus put the match beyond doubt late in the second half but by all accounts the match was over long before that.
Scott Parker made some tweaks from the side that had picked up a point at the Valley on Wednesday night. Terence Kongolo was handed a debut for Fulham and took his place in a back five with Cyrus Christie & Joe Bryan being deployed as wing backs.
It was a drizzly afternoon at the Etihad as the referee got the match under way. A grey, dreary Manchester lunchtime.
Within five minutes the match had taken a turn for the worse. A clever ball in behind the back line caught our defenders flat footed. Gabriel Jesus nipped in behind Tim Ream and looked to latch on to the loose ball in the box but before he could do so he was hauled to the ground by the American. The referee pointed to the spot and brandished a red card.
Gündoğan stepped up and arrowed an effort into the bottom left hand corner. It would be 80 minutes against Man City with ten men.
Ten minutes later the lead was doubled. Wave after wave of attacks tested our resolve and eventually an effort from outside the box resulted in a second. After working the ball about patiently Silva took aim from just outside the box. A fierce shot rifled into the bottom right hand corner past Rodak.
It was damage limitation time and we looked to keep our shape and catch the hosts on the break. Bobby Decordova-Reid producing the only effort on the City goal in the opening 30 minutes.
We solidified somewhat and managed to play out the remainder of the first half, limiting Manchester City to a couple of half chances. As the referee brought the first half to a close the two goal cushion remained intact and our chances of progressing to the next round appeared to have been scuppered.
The second half started slowly with the atmosphere at the Etihad incredibly subdued despite the convincing lead.
After not being able to grab another goal Pep Guardiola made a change and introduced Raheem Sterling to look to add a more direct pathway to generating shots on our goal.
In the 59th minute the substitute came close to adding a third. The electric winger was picked out at the back post by David Silva and after beating Kongolo to the ball he struck the bar with a thundering effort.
Our defensive structure and massed bodies behind the ball frustrated and stifled any attacks from City and the match stagnated.
However, in the 72nd minute Jesus was on hand to add a third from close range. We were caught in possession looking to play out from the back. A cross was swung into the back post and the Brazilian produced a good downward header to beat Rodak.
Moments later more casual defending resulted in another goal. This time round Jesus tapped in from close range following a good save from Rodak in the Fulham net from a strong Phil Foden shot.
It proved to be the final major incident of the match. We can now turn our focus fully on our quest for automatic promotion, starting with Huddersfield Town at Craven Cottage next Saturday.