By 90Min
November 01, 2018

An understrength Manchester City side saw off Fulham 2-0 in the round of 16 Carabao Cup Fixture on Thursday evening.

Pep Guardiola played a mixture of both youth and quality, featuring the likes of Arijanet Muric, Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz, Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne from the off, as City won the game thanks to two goals from 19-year-old Diaz.

Matthew Lewis/GettyImages

Playing in front of their home fans, City dominated possession as you'd expect and made the breakthrough in the 18th minute. A short corner routine found Vincent Kompany at the back post, the ball came off his thigh and rolled back to Brahim Diaz who shot at goal. The 19-year-old's effort deflected of Aleksandar Mitrovic, wrong footed Sergio Rico in the Fulham goal and gave City the lead.

Slavisa Jokanovic's Fulham side were then subject to a prolonged period of pressure where a second City goal just felt inevitable. It was always coming, but it didn't arrive until the 65th minute when a clever pass from Leroy Sane found Gabriel Jesus who struck the post with his shot. Following the rebound, Diaz showed his predatory instinct once more and grabbed his second. 

City never really looked in danger of losing the game and it could have easily been more than just two. But in the end, Guardiola should be content with his team's performance. Fulham, on the other hand, will be disappointed with the result but must be under no illusions that their hardest work has yet to come in regards to staying afloat in the league.


MANCHESTER CITY


Key Talking Point


Kevin De Bruyne is back - maybe. It might not have been the biggest occasion, but De Bruyne reminded all who were watching just what City have been missing during his absence. Ironically, he didn't play much of a part in either of the two goals, but everything else good in blue came through the Belgian. 

He could have had an assist when Phil Foden headed a cross wide late on in the first half, and there were other times where he wonderfully brought teammates into the game. All in all, KDB looked a class above playing in the weakened City side. 


Worryingly, however, with about five minutes left on the clock, De Bruyne limped off the field following a knock to his knee. City fans will be praying their star man is alright, having only just returned from a similar injury. 


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Muric (6); Zinchenko (7), Kompany (6), Stones (6), Danilo (7); Foden (7), Delph (7), De Bruyne (8); Diaz (8), Jesus (6), Sane (7).

Substitutes: Ederson, Walker, Gomes (6), Sterling, B. Silva, Mahrez (6), Aguero.


STAR MAN - Brahim Diaz seemed to start a little slowly, losing a few early battles against fellow youngster Ryan Sessegnon, but after scoring his goal, Diaz grew in confidence.

Suddenly spaces were opening up, and passes were on. Diaz got on the ball plenty and used it well. But, of course, the main reason he takes credit on the night is down to his predatory instinct. When City looked like they might just struggle to kill off Fulham, the 19-year-old popped up with his second of the night to kill the tie. 

WORST PLAYER -  It's genuinely hard to criticise anyone in the Citizen's line up this evening, but one man might have felt a little glum at full time.

When Sergio Aguero is ahead of you in the pecking order, every minute counts. Unfortunately it just wasn't Gabriel Jesus' night. He looked sharp at times, dribbling well in tight spaces, but he just couldn't add that killer finish to his game. 

He missed a couple of decent chances and would have be disappointed to not get on the score sheet.


FULHAM


Key Talking Point

Fulham just couldn't handle City's energy. Losing the ball in their own half was a trademark feature for them as they struggled to play past City's pressing game. The Cottagers didn't even get into City's half with the ball at their feet until about ten minutes into the game. 

Jokanovic sensibly set his team up deep as you'd expect, but they failed to ever really threaten on the counter - consequently, Andre Schurrle, Luciano Vietto and Mitrovic were all rendered useless.

LINDSEY PARNABY/GettyImages

It's a testament to City's pressing game and high energy levels as much as anything, but Jokanovic would have hoped for more of a fight from his team.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Rico (7); Sessegnon (6), Ream (5), Odoi (5), Fosu-Mensah (6); Seri (6), Anguissa (5), Cairney (5), Schurrle (6), Mitrovic (5), Vietto (5).

Substitutes: Le Marchand (6), Christie (6), Mawson, Ramirez, Sessegnon, Ayite (6), De La Torre.


STAR MAN- Sergio Rico was probably Fulham's best player in the sense that you couldn't really blame him for any of the goals and there wasn't much he could do to change how his team performed in front of him.

The keeper managed a handful of decent saves throughout the game. In particular, a stop during the first half was excellent, following a fine dribble and effort from Gabriel Jesus. It was also his save that denied Jesus in the build up to City's second. 

Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

WORST PLAYER- Luciano Vietto was in the team to give Fulham a bit of edge on the counter attack, probably. But he really didn't add much. It wasn't really a game where he could contribute positively and his duties were primarily defensive. 

Schurrle played the same role on the other side and did a little better; not much better, but just seemed to do a bit more with the ball than Vietto on the opposite flank. 


Looking Ahead

As City march on in the Carabao Cup, they will travel to either Leicester or Southampton in the quarterfinals for the next round. They also host Southampton in the Premier League this weekend.

Fulham will play Huddersfield in the league next, looking for a much needed win.  

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