Goals from Stevan Jovetic and Samir Nasri ensured Manchester City saw off Chelsea and maintained Manuel Pellegrini’s four-fronted trophy charge.
Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea
FA Cup with Budweiser
Fifth Round Proper
Saturday 15 February
A calm first-half finish by Jovetic and a beautifully worked team move that left Nasri with a tap-in in the second were enough to secure a place in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final draw.
Despite promising much, in reality it was something of a non-contest – with Costel Pantilimon – standing in for the rested Joe Hart - a spectator throughout the entirety of the game.
Chelsea were flat and lethargic, City energetic and dynamic and the sides were poles apart on the day.
It was only the second time in 10 meetings that Pellegrini has got the better of Jose Mourinho, and following the disappointing league against the same opposition a fortnight ago the FA Cup victory, and equally, the performance, will be especially pleasing for the Chilean.
The opening exchanges were a cagey affair. James Milner came into the City starting 11, seemingly to offer Pablo Zabaleta cover to contain the explosive Eden Hazard – while England defender Joleon Lescott was handed a rare start at the back.
Despite dominating possession throughout the opening 15 minutes, they offered little in the way of penetration – until a frantic 90 seconds of action.
Yaya Toure tested Cech with a thunderous 25-yard effort. Despite firing straight down the throat of the Chelsea stopper, the power in the shot and a greasy ball led to Cech spilling it directly into the path of the onrushing Jovetic – who flicked his shot on to the bar and harmlessly behind.
The Montenegrin did not have to wait long though – as moments later he was wheeling away in celebration after putting City.
Edin Dzeko slid a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Jovetic, who caught Cesar Azpilicueta and easily outpaced the Chelsea left-back before placing a shot low to Cech’s right. This time it hit the inside of the woodwork and bounced in off the post. City were ahead, and deservedly so.
Twelve days ago Jose Mourinho brought his side to the Etihad and was widely lauded for putting on a masterclass in counterattacking football and came away with an invaluable three points after a Branislav Ivanovic strike proved the difference between the two.
But Jovetic’s 16th-minute strike on a cold and blustery night in east Manchester meant the Portuguese would have to resort to Plan B and attempt to force the game.
But this suited City and it was the home who continued to ask the question and looked much the bigger threat throughout the first half, as Chelsea struggled to find the rhythm and fluidity so often on display in recent weeks.
Dzeko could have doubled City’s account on two occasions as a Milner cross flew agonisingly beyond his outstretched leg, while his rasping long-range effort was palmed away at full-stretch by Cech.
The famous City anthem ‘Blue Moon’ rang out around the stadium as the home fans sensed their guests were on the ropes – and on 67 minutes Nasri put the game to bed with a wonderfully worked goal.
The Frenchman found David Silva with an exquisite darting pass – and the diminutive Spanish maestro played a glorious reverse pass directly into his path and he tapped Manchester City into the FA Cup quarter-final with aplomb.
Manchester City (4-4-2): Pantilimon; Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Lescott, Clichy; Milner, Garcia, Yaya Toure, David Silva (Jesus Navas 69); Dzeko (Negredo 80) Jovetic (Nasri 61). Substitutes not used: Hart, Richards, Demichelis, Kolarov.
Goals: Jovetic 16, Nasri 67
Bookings: Kompany, Jovetic, Yaya Toure, Garcia
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (C); Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Ramires (Torres 61), Mikel, Matic;
Hazard, Willian, Eto’o (Salah ht). Substitutes not used: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Oscar, Schurrle.
Bookings: David Luiz, Matic
Referee: Phil Dowd