Manchester, Jan 28 (UiTV/IANS) – Manchester City are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after a 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Nathan Ake’s right-footed strike shortly after the hour mark sealed the win for the Blues and kept alive Pep Guardiola’s hopes of winning the prestigious cup competition for a second time, reports mancity.com.
Both sides will feel they had the chances to win the match but it was a carefully placed finish from an unlikely source that ultimately proved the difference.
Stefan Ortega Moreno was the first of the two goalkeepers called into action, palming away Takehiro Tomiyasu’s sweet strike from the edge of the box in the fifth minute.
City’s first chance came via an extravagant overhead kick from Erling Haaland who, after being beaten to a through ball by goalkeeper Matt Turner, reacted quickest and sent the looping clearance goalwards from 30 yards.
It was blocked by the covering Arsenal defence but there can be no greater example of the striker’s confidence.
Ortega Moreno was again at full stretch in the 21st minute when new Arsenal signing Leandro Trossard, on his full debut, shifted the ball out of his feet and fired across goal.
German shot stopper was equal to the effort but it was a reminder of the threat this much-changed Arsenal side posed.
Kevin De Bruyne looked to have broken the deadlock a few minutes later when he lined up a left-footed curler but it whistled agonisingly wide of Turner’s post.
In-form Eddie Nketiah had his first chance of the night just after the half hour mark, diverting Trossard’s cross wide of Ortega Moreno’s near post.
Haaland’s first half comprised largely of racing on to lofted passes sent in behind Arsenal’s defence. The Norwegian’s best chance before the break came in the 39th minute but his dink over Turner fell just the wrong side of the post.
There was a worrying moment for City in the final moments of the half as John Stones disappeared down the tunnel holding the back of his leg before he was promptly replaced by Aymeric Laporte.
After a quiet opening to the second half City rallied and eventually found the opener through Nathan Ake.
The Dutch defender turned finisher with a right-footed stroke inside the far post of Turner’s goal moments after half-time substitute Julian Alvarez had struck the woodwork.
That seemed to awaken the visitors, who responded with several attacks of their own, but a commanding defensive display frustrated the Premier League’s leaders and second highest scorers.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Alvarez found a pocket of space between defence and midfield and fired at goal only to see Turner hold the ball to his chest.
That was just a brief reprieve from Arsenal pressure, with the visitors trying everything to force an equaliser.
However, a determined City held out for a win that means FA Cup progress and undoubtedly a boost in confidence.