Manchester City find themselves returning to Wembley following a 6-0 riot against Vincent Kompany's Burnley, matching a historic record of five FA Cup semi-finals in a row.
All of the pre-match discussion revolved around the grandiose return of Manchester City’s greatest captain, with Kompany applauded as he walked out into the arena he’d spent 11 years at. Countless trophies and memories were put aside once John Brooks blew to signal the start of the action and Burnley got the first FA Cup quarter-final of the round underway at the Etihad Stadium.
A mammoth task was in the hands of Kompany’s side. Manchester City pulling few punches in their team sheet and opting for a single pivot of Rodri behind Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Alvarez. Yet Burnley found some joy in the opening 10 minutes of play. Sharp pressing from Lyle Taylor and Nathan Tella put the pressure on young goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, standing in for Man City’s cup duties.
Burnley had already had a few auditions ahead of their presumed promotion back to England’s top division. A 4-2 rout away at Bournemouth was the result from the FA Cup third round, and a tightly fought 2-0 loss away at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup was less due to a poor effort than it was Marcus Rashford’s form. This one, however, was another huge step for a club that has transformed since the appointment of their Belgian manager.
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It was the 32nd minute when Manchester City took the lead as Erling Haaland got on the end of an Alvarez through-ball before Bailey Peacock-Farrell managed to claim it on the edge of his post. A poked finish from the Norwegian means he’s now scored 40 goals this season, with many games to go in Europe and domestically. Surprisingly, it’s just Haaland’s first goal in the competition, however it didn’t take long for him to double up his tally.
Like with Leipzig on Tuesday, once Man City smell blood, they attack. Phil Foden runs behind Conor Roberts and squares one across Burnley’s box, and Haaland applied the deft touch round Peacock-Farrell to double the scoreline.
Following the two setbacks, Burnley continued to march forward valiantly. The Clarets ended the first half with a shot on goal from Ian Maatsen after a fine move to break through Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker. It was an impressive display from the Championship leaders that had been caught out by the hottest striker in world football.
There was changes during the half time break, with Ashley Barnes and Jack Cork replacing Lyle Foster and Johann Berg Gudmundsson for Burnley. The two Premier League-proven stars couldn’t do much to stop the bleeding.
Haaland netted his third goal and sixth hat-trick of the season just shy of the hour mark, tapping in an effort from Foden that bounced off the post and into the striker’s path. The floodgates had been thrown wide open by the Norwegian powerhouse, and similarly to the first half, it took just another few minutes for City to grab another.
Mahrez splits two defenders with an acute pass to Kevin De Bruyne, who’s storming towards goal unmarked. He squares it past the keeper and everybody in the ground helplessly watched Alvarez smash it in from close range. 4-0 might not be representative of the level Burnley had played at, however it continues their record of beatings at the Etihad. Four of the last five results for Burnley’s trips to Eastlands have resulted in 5-0 losses, and this one was heading that way.
A few changes of lineup later, Pep Guardiola’s side had their fifth. Youth product Cole Palmer tapped one in after Foden’s cross deflected towards goal, and Peacock-Farrell had to palm it away. It’s unfortunate but Man City set themselves up for success inside the box, and they’ve been rewarded again. The rewards didn’t stop there either.
Kevin De Bruyne was teeing up a performance of old, pulling the strings in the number ten role he’s dominated since he moved to Manchester all those years ago. This time he fed Alvarez with a delightful driven pass that caught Ameen Al-Dakhil on his heels. The Argentine World Cup winner shrugged off his defender and hammered it through Peacock-Farrell with venom. A sixth for Man City’s side, a second for Alvarez, and a second assist for the Belgian playmaker.
Man City had matched a record set previously by Arsenal (2005), Man Utd (1966) and Oxford University (1877) by reaching a fifth successive FA Cup semi-final. A proud moment to match teams with records as being ‘Invincible’, European Cup winners and the cup giants of the 1870s.
The referee blew for full time and Kompany headed straight to his old coach for an embrace, but looked focused as he approached his players. He knows what is expected of the club when they make their return to the Premier League next season and fights against the big boys might be a stretch too far. Some solace can be taken from the fact that they conceded one less than RB Leipzig managed in midweek, a verified Champions League side who consistently make it out of the group stages. Maybe Burnley could see themselves back in Europe soon, but Man City put them firmly in their place today.