Phil Foden scored twice as holders Manchester City cruised into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Sunday, with playmaker Kevin De Bruyne making a welcome return after four months out with a hamstring injury.
Fielding a strong side, City suffered a setback when they lost defender Manuel Akanji to injury early in the first half, but Foden’s superb finishing and De Bruyne’s comeback gave coach Pep Guardiola plenty to be happy about.
Huddersfield, who are hovering just above the relegation zone in England’s second-tier Championship, fell behind in the 33rd minute when Foden rifled the ball into the net from a tight angle, and striker Julian Alvarez poked home a second four minutes later.
De Bruyne entered the fray in the 57th minute and City added their third a minute later as Norwegian winger Oscar Bobb tried to pick out the Belgian at the far post, only to see his deflected cross loop into the net to make it 3-0.
Foden added his second with a precise shot from the edge of the area in the 65th minute, and nine minutes later De Bruyne teed up fellow substitute Jeremy Doku to complete the rout.
“We are incredibly delighted to have him back, because Kevin helps to win games. It is so important to have him back after a long injury,” Guardiola told the BBC.
“He will help us with his talent but I don’t want to put all the pressure on Kevin’s shoulders because it is not fair to him … he had a really good assist for the Jeremy Doku goal,” he added.
Goalscorer Foden gave credit to Huddersfield for making it difficult, but ultimately City’s class told.
“We seem to come against a low block quite often – we know what to expect, we just need to be patient, find the spaces and keep switching and hopefully they’ll open up and get tired,” he said.
Elsewhere, City’s Premier League rivals struggled as the lower-tier clubs made their presence felt in the cup competition to force some potentially lucrative replays.
Luton Town played out a scoreless draw at home against Bolton Wanderers, and Nottingham Forest were held to a 2-2 draw at the City Ground by Blackpool, with West Ham United and Bristol City ending in a 1-1 stalemate.
Leeds United had no such problems as striker Patrick Bamford netted a brilliant volley in a 3-0 hammering of Peterborough United, and West Bromwich Albion cruised to a 4-1 win at home to Aldershot Town.