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FA Cup | Ake’s late goal sends Man City into 5th round, Chelsea held

Manchester City’s Nathan Ake (left) celebrates with Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Rodri and Josko Gvardiol after scoring the team’s winning goal against Tottenham in the 4th round of the FA Cup on January 26, 2024

Manchester City’s Nathan Ake (left) celebrates with Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Rodri and Josko Gvardiol after scoring the team’s winning goal against Tottenham in the 4th round of the FA Cup on January 26, 2024
| Photo Credit: Reuters

FA Cup holders Manchester City left it late to book their place in the fifth round with Nathan Ake’s scrappy 88th-minute effort clinching a 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.

City had never won at Tottenham since they moved into their new stadium in 2019, nor even managed to score a goal, but Ake flicked in from close-range after home keeper Guglielmo Vicario flapped at a Kevin De Bruyne corner and the ball fell loose.

Tottenham could have few real complaints as they were second-best for long periods against Pep Guardiola’s side and barely forced Stefan Ortega into a save of note.

Three days after reaching the League Cup final, eight-time FA Cup winners Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Aston Villa while it also ended 0-0 at Ashton Gate between second-tier Bristol City and Premier League Nottingham Forest.

There were goals at Sheffield Wednesday although no winner as they drew 1-1 with Coventry City.

Breaking the stadium duck

Manchester City’s record at Tottenham has been something of an anomaly considering their success everywhere else.

They had lost their last four Premier League games there without scoring and also suffered a 1-0 defeat there in the Champions League semi-final of 2019.

By the time the latest duel reached the dying minutes, efforts by Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne meant City had gone unrewarded for 101 efforts at goal at Tottenham’s grand new arena which welcomed 9,000 visiting City fans.

But when Vicario was unable to hold a ball into a crowded area under pressure, Ake pounced.

City had dominated the first half with Oscar Bobb having an effort ruled out early for offside while Tottenham, usually so attack-minded, were forced to defend desperately.

The second half was more even until City upped the ante by sending on De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku with 25 minutes remaining. Silva was denied by Vicario and De Bruyne fired inches wide after a mistake by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Not even the arrival of James Maddison off the bench for his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in November could inspire the hosts who had one shot on target.

It was the first time Tottenham had failed to score in a competitive match since manager Ange Postecoglou took charge.

“We worked hard to stay in the game and conceded so late. But they were the better side,” Postecoglou conceded. “They make you suffer at points so we had to work hard and for the most part we defended well.”

I’ll sleep better, Guardiola on Klopp’s quit decision

After the game, City boss Pep Guardiola said he will miss his old sparring partner Juergen Klopp when the Liverpool manager calls time on his reign at the end of the season.

Klopp stunned the football world on Friday when he announced this would be his last season at the Anfield club he took over in 2015 and led to multiple trophies.

Asked if the news had been a shock, Guardiola said: “I am a little bit, he’s an absolutely incredible manager and I know I don’t know him closely but he’s an incredible person. I had a feeling that he’s leaving part of us too at Man City as Liverpool have been our biggest rival in his years.

“Personally he has been my biggest rival from when he was at Dortmund and I was at Bayern Munich. He will be missed, personally I will miss. I am pleased because without him I will sleep a little bit better the night before we play against Liverpool! But I wish him all the best.”

Chelsea held

Chelsea had won eight successive FA Cup ties at Stamford Bridge but could find no way past Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez as the visitors held out for a replay at Villa Park.

Villa had the ball in the net in the 12th minute but Douglas Luiz’s effort was ruled out for handball.

“Of course we wanted to win. We were not clinical enough. But we created chances and we need to keep believing and now we move on,” Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino said.

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