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City run riot against Rotherham

Ciara Fleming by Ciara Fleming @rfutbol - 0 2,175

Pin City were far better than their lower-tiered opponents. AFP
City were far better than their lower-tiered opponents. AFP

City run riot against Rotherham

Ciara Fleming by Ciara Fleming @rfutbol - 0 2,175

The Premier League champions showed every facet of their superior quality, by romping home against courageous Championship side Rotherham United.

A surprisingly strong starting lineup from Pep Guardiola, one that could match almost any eleven across Europe, never mind second tier Rotherham, set the tone for the match before it had even kicked off. The only notable 'youngsters' to make the City side were academy jewel ,Phil Foden and Ukrainian Oleksandr Zinchenko. Aside from that; first choice stopper Ederson continued in goal, Kevin De Bruyne returned to captain the side in midfield, and the hosts' forward line boasted the talents of Sterling, Mahrez and Jesus. 

If Rotherham had been expecting a tough encounter heading into the game, seeing the City team sheet would be the first of many set backs for the 'Millers', that would occur throughout the contest. Given that Pep Guardiola named a strong side, the Premier League champions started with great vigour and hunger for the break through, nearly breaking their guest's resolve within the first sixty seconds.

But for the poor finishing of Gabriel Jesus, City could have been out of sight before the clock hit the ten minute mark. As it was, they were made to wait only two minutes longer, before Raheem Sterling made the break through. A sublime reverse pass from team mate Kevin De Bruyne, found Sterling in a pocket of space inside the Rotherham box. The Englishman kept his composure to side step a handful of challenges, and arc the ball into the far bottom corner of the net. 

The next half hour of the game was very intriguing. In spite of all their dominance, City could not seem to add to their lead. Meanwhile, Rotherham's tenacity to close down home stopper Ederson when on the ball, gave them renewed hope of nicking a goal and getting back into the tie. Furthermore, the visitors had been able to invite fouls within their opponent's half, granting themselves the chance to utilise their aerial ability in the box.

Unfortunately for the 'Millers', they were unable to take the tie to half time having only conceded once. In typical City style, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan produced a sublime lofted ball to the far post, which youngster Phil Foden attacked, to get his first home goal for his boyhood club, on what was his maiden appearance in the FA Cup.

City would add a third goal to the score line before the interval.  A wicked low cross from Kyle Walker proved impossible for the Rotherham back line to deal with. In the end, full back Semi Ajayi would divert the ball past his own keeper at the back post. And so, after having pushed and probed their opponent's back line relentlessly, the scores would represent City's dominance at the break. 

The second half of this tie was very much a case of 'damaged limitations' for Rotherham. In spite of performing well in the first period, the visitors had been unable to keep their ruthless hosts at bay, and would therefore be aiming to keep the arrears low for the remaining 45 minutes. And so they did for the opening five minutes, but that was as far as they managed.  After spurning a number of great chances in the first half, Gabriel Jesus finally got reward for his persistence. A mazey run infield from the left hand side from Sterling, by passing half of the Rotherham team, gave the Brazilian the easy task to slot home from two yards out. 

Again, City were relentless in their pursuit of more goals. Rotherham's Rodak got down well to deny Leroy Sané's attempted corner kick from sneaking in at the front post. But City fans needed not fear; Riyad Mahrez performed a wonderful one-two combination with Ilkay Gundogan, before sliding the ball through the keeper's legs and in for their fifth of the afternoon. 

Soon after,visiting keeper Rodak was forced into a smart save to his right hand side, when Walker took aim with a rasping drive from the edge of the box. Nonetheless, City extended their lead from the resulting corner. Nicolas Otamendi rose highest to power home a header;his first goal of the season, to put the home side six goals to the good. 

Despite there only being ten minutes remaining in the tie, City smelled blood and continued to go for the jugular. Sure enough, Guardiola's side would add one more to their tally before the final whistle. A winding run from Leroy Sané, saw the German reach the edge of the box and take aim; his shot deflected and looped over the helpless Rotherham keeper and into the back of the net. 

Seventh heaven for the home side, who looked every bit as superior to Rotherham as the sides' respective league standings suggest. To their credit, Rotherham continued to battle all afternoon, but lack the sufficient quality to get themselves back into the tie. The 'Millers' always seemed destined for elimination from the competition as soon as City opened the scoring so early in the game.

So City march on, and continue to fight on four fronts this season, while Rotherham return to the reality of Championship football, with a trip to struggling Ipswich Town next weekend.

Ciara Fleming

Ciara Fleming

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