Manchester City all but clinched their place in the Carabao Cup final with a devastating 9-0 victory over League One side Burton Albion. Gabriel Jesus scored four as the defending champions essentially secured a spot at Wembley against Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur.
With fixture congestion a serious concern for Pep Guardiola, as they challenge for silverware in four competitions, City at least lightened their load a little. There is no need to send any sort of a team for the second leg with this tie over and it might be better for everyone, including poor Burton, if it was called off all together. It’s a contrast to last season’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Bristol City when City were only 2-1 ahead after the first leg and sent a full side to complete the job on the way to Guardiola’s first English trophy.
It was disappointing to see Phil Foden dropped to the bench. The England Under-21 international had started the three previous games in the competition — scoring his first goal for the club in the third round victory over Oxford United way back in September, but he was only given 32 minutes in the last-four clash. He should at least start the second leg.
Despite leaving Foden out of his starting lineup, Pep Guardiola had the right blend of youth and experience to crush the visitors. He wants to get Kevin De Bruyne up to match fitness and this game comes after the FA Cup clash with Rotherham United, the pair of games in quick succession a perfect test for the Belgian.
GK Aro Muric, 6 — Burton weren’t afraid to attack in the opening 20 minutes but they failed to force the 20-year-old into a meaningful save. He’s not far off Ederson confidence levels with the ball at his feet.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 — Comfortable defensively and offered plenty of energy as an overlapping full-back. Looked like a striker with his predatory finish.
DF Eric Garcia, 7 — First start at the Etihad on his 18th birthday. Came up against a wily old striker in Liam Boyce and had few problems.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 — A solid and mature performance at the heart of the defence sandwiched by the inexperience of Garcia and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 7 — Lost Marcus Myers-Harness early in the first half for Burton’s best chance that was blasted high over the bar. It was his only misjudgment and he grabbed his first ever City goal, with a mishit cross.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 8 — Looks ideal for Guardiola at the base of midfield when put under little pressure. Picked holes in the Burton midfield with his exquisite passing.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 9 — Vital minutes in his legs as he returns to fitness after two knee injuries. He looks close to being at his very best with his dynamic running and pinpoint passes.
MF David Silva, 7 — Turned 33 yesterday. Set up the opening goal and then strolled through the rest of the tie effortlessly.
FW Riyad Mahrez, 7 — On the fringes at times but came to life with a quick run and cross to lay on Gabriel for his hat trick. Grabbed City’s ninth.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 9 — Seems like things are finally going the Brazilian’s way after this four-goal performance. Barely had a touch in the first 30 minutes before exploding into life.
FW Leroy Sane, 9 — Terrified the Burton defence every time the ball came anywhere near him. They couldn’t cope with his pace, intelligent running and passing.
MF Phil Foden, 7 — Took up where De Bruyne left off in the centre of midfield and got on the scoresheet.
FW Bernardo Silva, 6 — Pulled apart a tiring Burton defence.
DF Danilo, N/R — Played almost as a right winger after coming on.