Manchester City saw off plucky Bristol City to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 3-0 victory at Ashton Gate.
Phil Foden scored twice and Kevin De Bruyne added late gloss as the six-time FA Cup winners ended Bristol City’s unbeaten 12-game run before a capacity crowd in the West Country.
The scoreline was harsh on the hosts, who fell behind to Foden’s seventh-minute strike and remained very much in the contest well into the final quarter.
But Foden’s deflected strike 16 minutes from time and a fine De Bruyne finish ensured the visitors’ place in the last eight.
De Bruyne returned after missing two games through illness and captained a Manchester City side showing five changes from Saturday’s Premier League win at Bournemouth.
England midfielder Kalvin Phillips made only his second start since leaving Leeds last summer as Ederson, Erling Haaland, Ilkay Gundogan, Jack Grealish and Rodri began the night on the bench.
Phillips was clearly determined to impress after his injury troubles and only 63 seconds had elapsed when he struck the crossbar from 25 yards.
In a frantic opening Manuel Akanji’s slip gave Sam Bell a shooting opportunity that ended up being deflected wide and the visitors were ahead soon after.
Riyad Mahrez worked a clever one-two with De Bruyne and the Algerian’s cross to the far post was swept high into the net by Foden, who scored for the second successive game.
What a move it was for the opener! 🤌
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 28, 2023
Bristol City’s response was a loud penalty shout after Mark Sykes tangled with Rico Lewis. It appeared a legitimate appeal but referee Andre Marriner was unmoved and, with no VAR in operation, home fans were left frustrated.
Julian Alvarez miskicked in front of the home goal from Foden’s cross, but Bristol City were acquitting themselves well and getting a fair amount of joy down their left flank.
Alex Scott shot straight at Stefan Ortega and Bell fired over after Tomas Kalas caught De Bruyne in possession.
Manchester City’s threat was also evident as Mahrez saw his volley headed off the line by Kalas and Ruben Dias tested Max O’Leary with a header.
Mahrez was making his 400th appearance in English football and Robins boss Nigel Pearson, who signed him for Leicester in 2014 from French club Le Havre, could not resist having a word with the Algerian when he went to ground following a touchline challenge from Cameron Pring.
Ederson replaced Ortega at half-time and Manchester City took charge of the contest without working O’Leary until Alvarez forced him into a save low to his right.
Foden was caught late and took instant retribution on Sykes to earn a yellow card and a word from his manager Pep Guardiola to stay focused.
The temperature was rising both on and off the pitch as the contest became more balanced and Bristol City fans urged their players to seize the moment.
It almost arrived when Scott dispossessed Dias for Andreas Weimann to send over a cross which Bell headed just wide.
But it was all over when De Bruyne played a wonderful through ball to Nathan Ake before Alvarez helped it on to Foden, and the Belgium midfielder ensured he would have the last word from 20 yards.