Goals in each half from Stevan Jovetic and Samir Nasri gave Manchester City a simple win over a lacklustre Chelsea in their FA Cup fifth-round clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Jovetic had already clipped the bar with a chip before he placed an effort beyond Petr Cech after 16 minutes.
Despite the introduction of Mohamed Salah and Fernando Torres, Chelsea lacked spark throughout with the threat of Eden Hazard particularly nullified by a hungry City defence.
But it was a City substitution that finished the game off, with Nasri exchanging passes with an offside David Silva before slotting home to earn City a place in the quarter-final draw.
Before the highest-profile fifth round tie there was an impeccably-observed silence for Sir Tom Finney, the England and Preston legend, and the home side made a timid start amidst an understandably subdued atmosphere.
When City eventually settled, the opening goal was not far behind. Yaya Toure was the catalyst when his fierce shot was fumbled by Petr Cech, presenting Stevan Jovetic with a chance to score but his delicate chip grazed the crossbar.
City’s Montenegrin striker would not have to wait long for a goal though, and when Edin Dzeko found him on the right flank he finished off a quick passing move with a superbly-placed shot to Cech’s right which found the net via the post.
The goal confirmed City’s growing confidence but that was undermined by a shaky Costel Pantilimon, who ignited a goalmouth scramble with a flap at Branislav Ivanovic’s cross but, luckily for the 6ft 8in Romanian, his alert defence saw off the danger.
At the other end the hosts quickly resumed their silky attacking play and after 24 minutes another flowing attack culminated in Dzeko working Cech with a low shot from outside the box.
Chelsea’s disappointing start to the game was reflected by Eden Hazard’s anonymity, with the Belgian kept quiet by the City defence until some smart footwork drew a foul from compatriot Vincent Kompany who was booked by referee Phil Dowd.
Dowd was in action again just before the break, eventually booking David Luiz for a mis-timed challenge on Jovetic, but from the resultant advantage James Milner wasted a good opportunity when his heavy cross proved too strong for Dzeko to reach six yards from goal.
Jose Mourinho, who had been playing mind games all week with his title-hungry adversaries, reacted to a passive opening half by replacing Samuel Eto’o with new signing Mohamed Salah.
Salah replaced Eto’o up front in a move which continued Mourinho’s apparent lack of faith in Fernando Torres.
Mourinho would also have been keen to see his side establish themselves in the second half, but City continued to dominate without coaxing Cech into serious action.
Manuel Pellegrini, meanwhile, would have been angry when Jovetic proceeded to blemish what had been a diligent display with an embarrassing dive – prompting Dowd to brandish a yellow card.
It was to be Jovetic’s last action of the game, but he was replaced by the returning Samir Nasri on the hour with Mourinho giving Torres the chance to impose himself on his future plans at the expense of the quiet Ramires.
Nasri’s introduction would emerge as the crucial substitution when the Frenchman doubled City’s lead with a wonderful move after 67 minutes.
The attack began with Kompany, an imposing figure throughout, drilling a low ball to Nasri who fed David Silva before collecting the Spaniard’s square pass to calmly place the ball into a vacant net.
Television replays suggested that Silva was marginally offside when he received Nasri’s pass, but the officials went some way to redeeming themselves when correctly disallowing a Joleon Lescott tap-in from an offside position.
Chelsea could only muster a brief spell of pressure late on and duly failed to test Pantilimon in what was a microcosm for the whole match.
By then it was far too little far too late as City ran out comfortable winners to avenge their league defeat just 12 days previous and advance into the quarter-finals with ease.
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