Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester City: Wembley beckons for Guardiola’s men

Manchester City recorded a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Riverside Stadium to book their ticket for the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero either side of half-time helped Manchester City to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2012-13 at the expense of Middlesbrough.

Silva opened the scoring from close range after just three minutes, before Aguero completed the 2-0 win at Riverside Stadium after the break with a fine finish.

City boss Pep Guardiola had acknowledged ahead of Saturday’s encounter that a lack of silverware in 2016-17 would mean his first season at the club will be considered a failure and he thus fielded a strong XI regardless of the upcoming Champions League trip to Monaco.

And the former Bayern boss’ decision paid off as City were well in control throughout the game, eventually cruising to a comfortable win to prevent a repeat of the FA Cup exit versus Boro in 2014-15.

There was a further boost for Guardiola as his side kept a third successive clean sheet, perfect preparation for when they travel to Monaco defending a 5-3 lead with the plan of stopping Leonardo Jardim’s potent strikeforce.

For Boro there were moments of positivity but – as has been the case all season – they lacked quality in the final third and will now turn their attention to Premier League survival.

City immediately charged forward and went a goal up after just three minutes through Silva, Boro goalkeeper Brad Guzan unable to keep his shot out despite getting a hand to it. Pablo Zabaleta did well to fire the ball across goal after being set up by Yaya Toure and, after Raheem Sterling failed to properly connect, the Spaniard blasted home from close range.

The hosts slowly grew into the game after a rocky start and they were unfortunate not to restore parity halfway through the first half when Rudy Gestede tested Claudio Bravo from Grant Leadbitter’s right-wing corner, the City goalkeeper only just getting a hand to his header before Zabaleta cleared it off the goal-line.

Leroy Sane should perhaps have doubled the away side’s lead in the 33rd minute following another intricate team move involving Silva and Sterling, only for the ex-Schalke star to mishit his shot with his weaker right foot after a low cross from the England winger.

It was all City again early in the second half and Silva could have doubled his personal tally after some great work from Sterling down the right, but the attacking midfielder aimed too high from just yards out.

Aguero was then unfortunate not to add his name to the score sheet when Guzan did just enough to deflect his low shot against the upright with a fine reflex save after yet another low Sterling cross.

A second goal seemed inevitable, though, and Aguero eventually grabbed it in the 67th minute, the Argentina international slamming home from close range after delightful work from the impressive Sane.

Sterling thought he had added a third minutes later when he pounced on a rebound, but the winger saw his goal disallowed for offside.

It mattered little, though, as City eased into the last four, while Guardiola was able to bring Aguero, Sane and Yaya Toure off for some valuable rest ahead of their midweek European journey.

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