LONDON (AP):Manchester City swept aside West Ham 5-0 to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup yesterday, bringing an upbeat end to a testing week for coach Pep Guardiola.Midfielder Yaya Toure’s penalty, Norwegian defender Havard Nordtveit’s own goal and a strike from midfielder David Silva made it 3-0 by halftime. Top scorer Sergio Aguero and defender John Stones added goals after the break to give Guardiola the easiest of introductions to world football’s oldest knockout competition.As well as a handsome win, it was welcome relief for Guardiola the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, who is still adapting to his first season in England.He has been facing criticism following some erratic recent performances in the Premier League. City scraped past a gritty Burnley side 2-1 at home on Monday, following on from a 1-0 defeat away to title rival Liverpool – City’s fourth league defeat of the campaign.This rout vindicated Guardiola’s decision to field a strong line-up, and he clearly showed he is taking the competition seriously by recalling two of his best players in Silva and Aguero.West Ham, by contrast, left star player Dimitri Payet on the bench and immediately found themselves under pressure against a City side, which is fourth in the Premier League, seven points behind leader Chelsea after 20 games.Silva’s early cut-back found Pablo Zabaleta, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Winston Reid, before Gael Clichy set up Silva only for his effort to be kept out by goalkeeper Adrian at the near post.MINIMAL CONTACTThe pressure was always going to tell, though, and in the 32nd minute Zabaleta tumbled to the floor under Angelo Ogbonna’s challenge.There was only minimal contact, but referee Michael Oliver quickly pointed to the spot and Toure converted the penalty.West Ham then collapsed at the Olympic Stadium.City doubled their lead in the 41st minute, as Raheem Sterling arrived at the far post and forced an own goal from Nordtveit trying to clear Bacary Sagna’s cross.It was all too easy for City as two minutes later Sterling took his turn to race down West Ham’s weak left flank. The winger laid the ball across goal to Silva, who from six metres out had time to take a touch and steady himself before slotting in.Five minutes into the second half, Toure rifled a shot through a crowded area and Aguero diverted the ball into the net.
January 20, 2020