Holders Manchester City served up an attacking masterclass as they thrashed 10-man Fulham 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, with Gabriel Jesus scoring twice within three second-half minutes.
Any hopes of Championship side Fulham causing an upset at the Etihad Stadium were dented in less than six minutes after captain Tim Ream received his marching orders for dragging down Jesus inside the box.
“For a few moments I thought it would be a tough game,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “They’re a team with a lot of courage, but it was a bit different after the red card.”
Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty for his fifth City goal of the campaign, before Bernardo Silva made it 2-0 for the hosts.
Phil Foden slid the ball across the edge of the box to Silva, who made a sharp turn before driving the ball past Fulham keeper Marek Rodak into the bottom right corner.
City continued to carve open Fulham in the second half, with substitute Raheem Sterling striking the crossbar from close range on the hour mark.
Jesus eventually put the game to bed as he headed home a Joao Cancelo cross from the right wing. The Brazilian striker made it four, 163 seconds later, when he pounced on a rebound after Foden’s initial attempt had forced a save from Rodak.
Having fallen 16 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League title race, City are now focused on winning the remaining three cup competitions in the second half of the season.
Guardiola’s side are well placed to reach the League Cup final as they hold a 3-1 lead heading into the second leg of the semifinal against local rivals Manchester United on Wednesday.
However, a tougher test awaits in the Champions League, where City meet Spanish giants Real Madrid in the last 16 in February.
“The determination was always there and we will fight to win each competition,” Guardiola added.
“Next is United and a chance to get to the final, and that is our next target.”