Aston Villa and Everton stand between City and their first FA Cup semi final appearance since 1981 as the blues swept past Notts County in the fourth round replay at Eastlands.
Two goals from Patrick Vieira were followed by a Carlos Tevez goal, an Edin Dzeko header and a fine left foot finish from Micah Richards meant City avoided an embarrassing exit to County who at times, threatened to make a mockery of their League One status.
It was the visitors who started the brightest, forcing a corner within the first minute after Joe Hart came and missed his punch following a free kick on the left wing. County almost dominated the game in the first twenty minutes and were unlucky not to take the lead when Karl Hawley’s curling shot struck the inside of the post with Hart beaten and the City man was happy to see the rebound bounce to safety.
City eventually woke up and responded immediately when Micah Richards crossed from the right and Dzeko saw his header beaten away by Stuart Nelson. City began to turn the screw a little and Dzeko and Richards should have found the target from corners swung in by Aleksander Kolarov.
A city goal was on the way and it came in the form of Vieira, who met ‘Homesick’ winger David Silva’s cross to easily nod past Nelson. The goal seemed to take a bit more sting out of County as the they headed towards half time and City looked comfortable with their lead.
The second half began just as scrappy as the first, with both teams struggling to get a foothold in the game and for a while, it looked like Vieira’s goal would be the only one of the game. But it was the same player that popped up again in the 57th minute to guide Kolarov’s corner into the back of the net and win the tie for the blues.
Mario Balotelli was injured in a clash of heads and was withdrawn, replaced by top scorer Carlos Tevez. The Argentine tried his luck from distance to kill county off before he got his reward six minutes from time. Dzeko played the ball through the middle for Tevez to chase and the striker rounded Nelson and slotted home number three.
And Tevez repaid the compliment five minutes later when he was through again but forced wide. His delicate chip into the middle was met by the head of Dzeko, who guided it home to make it 4-0 and rub salt into County’s wounds, while spoiling my prediction of 3-0 in the process.
Richards made it five a minute into injury time after County failed to clear another corner and he hooked a left foot shot into the top corner. Dzeko could have had a second when clear through on goal moments later as County fell apart, but Nelson got some part of his body to it to deny the £27m man.
The result was a little harsh on County. For all their work and endeavour came to nothing except an FA Cup exit. But that what happens sometimes in the cup. For City, a fifth round date at Eastlands awaits on Wednesday 2nd March and, if the league fixture is anything to go by, they should be in line to face Everton or Reading for a semi final place.