Manchester City eased into the Emirates FA Cup fourth round after beating a spirited Swindon Town 4-1 at the County Ground.
Bernardo Silva’s 14th minute tap-in got the ball rolling and Gabriel Jesus punished a Robins mistake to double the lead before the half-hour mark.
Ilkay Gundogan curled home a free-kick after the break and after Lewis Ward saved a Jesus penalty, Harry McKirdy pulled one back for the League Two side.
But Cole Palmer’s excellent late finish put the result beyond doubt and ensured the six-time winners advanced past the third round stage for the tenth consecutive season.
The visitors travelled without manager Pep Guardiola and seven first-team regulars due to positive Covid-19 cases but assistant Rodolfo Borrell named a strong team packed with full internationals.
Two of them linked up within the first five minutes as Joao Cancelo found his Portuguese compatriot Silva unmarked eight yards out but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down.
Cancelo then had some defending to do, ensuring a cross from the left didn’t reach Jordan Lyden as the hosts – roared on by a capacity crowd of 14,753 – mounted their first attack.
City continued to dominate possession, however, and took the lead after fine work by Palmer down the right helped set up Silva for a simple finish.
The same player should have doubled his tally shortly afterwards only to fire over after a loose back header had let him in and Swindon were the architects of their own downfall once more when City doubled their lead.
Trying to play out from the back, a heavy touch from Louis Reed on the edge of his own area allowed de Bruyne to play in Jesus, who slotted past Lewis Ward.
Visiting goalkeeper Zack Steffen got away with a wobble of his own on 31 minutes when his stray pass found McKirdy, whose attempted chip was comfortably caught by the American.
The hosts, playing in the third round for the first time in a decade, continued to seek a response before the interval and Lyden’s low cross was cleared by Kyle Walker inside his own six-yard box with Tyreece Simpson lurking.
Cancelo saw a thunderous 25-yard effort whistle narrowly wide with the final action of note in the first half and the Premier League leaders came close to trebling their lead soon after the restart as Palmer’s deflected effort flew just over.
A third goal did arrive before the hour mark, Gundogan curling a free-kick round the wall and into the bottom corner, and it could have been four shortly afterwards when Lyden brought down Silva in the area.
Referee Darren England pointed to the spot but Jesus’ tame effort was well saved by Ward to his right and Swindon soon saw penalty appeals of their own waved away after Simpson went down in the box.
Ward had to be alert to twice deny Gundogan and substitute James McAtee curled over from the edge of the box as City looked to add gloss to the scoreline.
But it was Swindon that struck next as Jonny Williams won possession on the halfway line and released McKirdy, who fired low under Steffen to spark dreams of an unlikely late fightback.
Romoney Crichlow headed a free-kick over as the noise grew around the County Ground but the excellent Palmer settled any lingering City nerves by curling a fine effort into the top corner with eight minutes remaining.
The visitors almost made it five late on but Rodri’s thunderbolt was superbly tipped on to the bar by the impressive Ward.