And that’s your lot! Ben Fisher was our man at the Liberty, lucky to witness a rip-roaring tie that had just about everything. Here’s his report. Enjoy, and thanks for reading this MBM!
Pep is asked about the two contentious decisions. “I honestly didn’t watch it, but if it’s not a penalty I am sorry, and if it is offside I am sorry. Why VAR is not here is a question for the authorities. I don’t like it, but honestly I didn’t watch the situation.” And the quadruple? “Ask me again at the end of April!”
Graham Potter speaks! Is he proud or frustrated? “Mostly proud to be honest. We were incredible and showed great courage against a top team. They had some chances and we had some luck, but in the end it was a fantastic effort. With the quality they have, we knew we probably needed another goal. The penalty is touch and go, if I’m being kind to the referee. The winner is offside, which is disappointing for the players. Overall Manchester City had chances, I can’t deny they deserved to win the game. But it’s disappointing to lose goals in that manner. But that’s life, and referees make mistakes as well.” A really gentlemanly response to a disappointing end to Swansea’s cup run.
That was a glorious FA Cup quarter-final. As good as it gets. Swansea scored the goal of the evening, a back-to-front flowing passing move gorgeously finished by Bersant Celina. Manchester City created a large number of chances, the kind they’d normally slot away. It looked like being one of those days, until the debatable penalty decision knocked the stuffing out of Swansea. A winner for Manchester City seemed inevitable thereafter, though when it came, it was marginally offside. This will sting Swansea badly – they were so close to reaching the semis for only the third time in their history – but once the pain subsides they’ll feel very proud of their performance, which augurs well for their future. Manchester City, meanwhile, continue to dream of an unprecedented quadruple.
FULL TIME: Swansea City 2-3 Manchester City
And that’s it! Manchester City join Watford in the semi-finals, but only just, benefiting from a couple of late, close, controversial calls to complete a comeback from two down. Swansea were sensational in the first half, but couldn’t hang on, eventually buckling under intense Manchester City pressure.
90 min +5: One last chance for Swansea, as Roberts flings a long throw into the mixer from the right. But Manchester City do just enough to clear.
90 min +4: Aguero runs the clock down near the corner flag. It looks all over.
90 min +2: It’s been a sensational comeback by Manchester City, who look like coming back from two goals down for the first time under Pep. They’ve been two down eight times before; eight times they’ve gone on to lose. But not tonight. Some effort! However the penalty call and the offside winner will take a little shine off it. Expect to hear more.
90 min: There will be four added minutes. Maybe a little more, because a clown in a red puffa-puffa jacket has lolloped onto the field of play. He’s eventually bundled back off, presumably to be thrown in the jug. Imagine that being your 15 minutes of fame. What a toolbag.
GOAL! Swansea City 2-3 Manchester City (Aguero 88)
Aguero has missed some fine chances in his brief period on the pitch. But now he’s scored at last. Bernardo Silva curls a lovely low cross on from the left. At the near post, Aguero stoops to guide a sensationally good header into the bottom left! But it’s another controversial one, because he was a smidgen offside. No VAR here today, much to the home side’s chagrin.
87 min: Fulton is replaced by Harries. Walker sends a low shot inches wide of the left-hand post. Is anyone going to claim a dramatic late winner? If not, there will be a most acceptable extra 30 minutes of this rip-roaring fun! And maybe penalties to follow. Gotta love the FA Cup!
85 min: This is end-to-end nonsense, a fantastic cup tie. Aguero can’t convert a low David Silva left-wing cross from close range. Asoro romps down the right and sends a shot from distance wide. Manchester City go up the other end and win a corner that comes to nothing.
83 min: How did this stay out? Sterling loops a cross into the Swansea box from the right. Jesus heads down towards the bottom left. Nordfeldt pushes onto the post. The ball rebounds to Jesus, who only needs to poke home from close range. But Aguero gets in the way, taking over and slamming the ball straight at the keeper! What a fiasco!
82 min: Mancehster City are pressing for the winner. They’ve enjoyed 80 percent of possession in the last five minutes. Swansea are all over the shop.
80 min: That was a very soft penalty. Carter-Vickers got something on the ball. But did he also clip Sterling? A little bit, perhaps. Anyway, it was given. Swansea’s heads are addled. Suddenly, they’re in real danger of losing this tie. Aguero has a shot that Fulton blocks. David Silva has another pop; that one’s deflected away too.
GOAL! Swansea City 2-2 Manchester City (Nordfeldt og 78)
Aguero slams the spot kick onto the bottom of the left-hand post. It comes off the base of the post, flies across the face of goal, and clips Nordfeldt’s trailing heel – he’d gone the right way – and into the net. What terrible luck for the Swansea keeper.
Penalty for Manchester City!
77 min: Sterling, the ball at his feet to the right of the D, suddenly turns on the jets. He races into the area. Carter-Vickers sticks out a leg. Sterling goes over, and the ref points to the spot!
76 min: Sterling slips a pass down the right for Walker, who fizzes a low one towards the near post. Aguero is at the right-hand edge of the six-yard box. You’d expect him to at least get something on target, but his control lets him down and Swansea escape.
74 min: Jesus plays a Phil Mickelsonesque flop down the inside-left channel. It drops to Sterling, just inside the Swansea area. A perfect pass that’s carved Swansea open, but Sterling’s lost the flight of the ball and can’t get a shot away. Shame, that would have been quite a goal.
73 min: Zinchenko glides down the inside-left channel before slipping a pass across the face of the box for Sterling, coming in from the other flank. Sterling leans back and sends a dismal shot sailing over; by his own superb standards, he should have done much better.
72 min: Before the goal, Manchester City weren’t quite kaput exactly … but they were beginning to look ragged. Now there’s an extra bounce in every footstep. They’re getting to the loose balls first again. Swansea will need to dig in.
70 min: A pause before the restart because Fulton had taken a whack while blocking one of those Aguero efforts. That gives Swansea’s fans time to pick themselves up and trill those hymns and arias again. But Manchester City’s supporters are now singing too. It’s going to be a hell of a ride now!
GOAL! Swansea City 2-1 Manchester City (Bernardo Silva 69)
And here it is! Walker crosses from the right. Roberts doesn’t manage to clear. Aguero has a couple of snapshots blocked. The ball breaks left to Bernardo Silva, who power-curls a delightful effort around Nordferldt and into the top right! The atmosphere’s changed all right. Game on!
67 min: Sterling dribbles his way down the left but eventually runs the ball out of play for a goal kick. On the touchline, Guardiola is beginning to look highly irritated. He’s literally hopping mad, waving at his players and ranting with great feeling. Time’s beginning to run out for his players. A goal soon enough would change the atmosphere.
65 min: The pace of James sends Manchester City into a flat spin yet again. They’re all over the place as he tears into the box from the left. Gundogan does extremely well to step in and ease him off the ball. Ederson is then able to intervene with Routledge lurking on the penalty spot.
64 min: Manchester City make their final change … unless this goes to extra time, of course, in which case they’ll be able to make another. Mahrez is replaced by Aguero. The entire cavalry’s on, then.
62 min: Manchester City are teetering on the brink here. Celina slides a pass down the left channel for James, who hopes to round Ederson, racing out from his box. But the keeper does just enough to intercept and clear. Anything else, and that would have been game over. Manchester City have never come back from two down under Pep; 3-0 would have surely been it.
61 min: Dyer has been quiet. So he’s replaced by 19-year-old Joel Asoro, who comes with tactical notes in hand. He’s not managed to pass them on to anyone yet, though.
59 min: Zinchenko’s first act is to go nose-to-nose with Roberts. The head gone, less than two minutes after coming on. Manchester City need to simmer down if they’re going to get back into this. As things stand, their quadruple dream is slipping from their grasp.
57 min: Manchester City make a double change. Delph and Sane are hooked, Zinchenko and Sterling coming on. “Just wondering if a quick Jesus throw (37 min) is one theological step above a Hail Mary Pass?” quips Bob Lemon.
56 min: Manchester City are finding James hard to handle. He rips down the left and forces the visitors on the back foot yet again. What pace he’s got! The ball’s worked to Byers out on the other flank; he runs it out for a goal kick.
54 min: A corner for Manchester City down the right. From the set piece, a hectic game of pinball ensues. But Swansea are getting the breaks. Shots are blocked, ricochets fall to home boots. Eventually they clear. Carter-Vickers and van der Hoorn have both been immense so far.
52 min: Swansea knock it around the back awhile, but nearly play themselves into trouble, and Nordfeldt is forced to hack into touch in the fretful style. Nothing much comes from the resulting throw, deep in Swans territory. But a warning that the hosts can’t get too carried away, despite playing with great style so far. “Why don’t teams of a similar level to Swansea in the Premiership just give it a go against Man City?” wonders Andy Tuohy. “That back line really doesn’t like it up ‘em! Most teams look it as a dead rubber, so they may as well give it a go and have an outside chance of getting something out of it rather than parking and losing, which is what happens most of the time bar the odd blip. Wait 75 minutes before parking it. But, of course, Man City might well tonk them 6-2 or something now I’ve said that.”
50 min: This is turning into a wild end-to-end affair. James totally skins Otamendi for pace down the left, but Laporte comes across to double up and eventually the Manchester City duo manage to wrest possession back.
49 min: Celina’s ankle must be just fine, because now he races into a large gap in the Manchester City midfield. He’s allowed to make up 40 yards, then shoots from distance. Well over the bar. Manchester City go up the other end, Sane twisting and turning down the left. But he can’t get a shot away, nor find a team-mate in the middle.
47 min: Bernardo Silva makes good down the right His low cross is hacked clear by Roberts, but only onto Jesus, six yards out. The ball clanks just wide of the right-hand post. Another incident to file under One Of Those Days?
Swansea get the second half underway! No changes. Manchester City are quickly on the front foot, Sane bursting down the left. There are no gaps to exploit, though. Gundogan then tries to release Mahrez down the middle with a cute chip, but van der Hoorn heads clear.
Half-time entertainment. This quarter-final has been very entertaining so far. Will it join the pantheon? Only time will tell. But how about this classic Joy of Six on that very subject? Here’s Bobbie!
HALF TIME: Swansea City 2-0 Manchester City
Nothing much happens in the added-on time. That’s the half-time whistle. As the players troop off, a rattled Laporte gets himself in a silly tangle with Routledge and is booked for his trouble. And no wonder the visitors are losing their heads! Swansea City weathered an early storm, then hit them with a quick one-two. The second goal, a passing move from back to front, was a thing of Rodgers-era beauty. A Swansea win was 20-1 against! Well, it’s on, unless Manchester City can sort themselves out in the second half. What a 45 minutes we have coming up!
45 min: Laporte takes a speculative shot from 25 yards, but it’s easily blocked. There will be two added minutes.
44 min: Gundogan tries to release Sane down the left, but his pass is too heavy and Nordfeldt can come out and smother.
43 min: Grimes whips a high free kick towards the far post. Carter-Vickers climbs highest, but can only send a weak header wide left. That was a good chance to turn an unlikely scoreline into a positively trippy one.
42 min: Routledge spins Laporte out on the right, and is hauled down for his trouble. It should be a yellow card, but the referee only dishes out a lecture. But it is a free kick, and a chance for Swansea to cause more bother in the box.
40 min: Mahrez shapes to shoot on the edge of the Swansea box. But he has the ball nicked off him, and suddenly James is romping up the left. He cuts inside and looks for Routledge through the middle, but the pass isn’t so good this time. Once again, though, Manchester City looked a bit tatty at the back. They’re there to be got at, if you’re adventurous enough. Some Premier League teams should give it a go sometime.
39 min: Sane rolls a pass down the left to release David Silva into the area. Silva crosses; the ball comes back off Roberts and out off the Manchester City man for a goal kick. Nothing’s working for them, all of a sudden. What a start they had to this game, as well.
37 min: A quick Jesus throw down the right frees Bernardo Silva into acres of space. Swansea were sleeping a little bit. Bernardo loops a cross into the area for Sane, but it’s uncharacteristically inaccurate. Swansea clear.