Kudos to a Bernardo Silva-inspired 3-0 home win to Birmingham City on Sunday, Manchester City relaxed into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Pep Guardiola made the rather shocking choice to name what was basically his strongest possible XI, and as they quickly drove into a 2-0 lead, their superior quality was telling from the start.
With a gorgeous volley, Silva opened the scoring and quickly doubled the advantage of City to top off a fine move in the 15th minute before Phil Foden effectively destroyed any hopes of a return from Birmingham before the interval.
In the second half, the city was less deadly as they struggled to add to their lead, but it meant little as they had no trouble seeing a secure victory.
After seeing the line-up chosen by Guardiola, Aitor Karanka and Birmingham would have been braced for a tough day, but nothing could have prepared them for the hosts’ launch.
As he unleashed a spectacular volley just inside the box to punish a weak clearance, picking out the top-left corner, Silva showed the remarkable technique to make it 1-0.
After the Belgian had been well spotted by Riyad Mahrez, he soon got a second with an easy close-range finish, guiding home Kevin De Bruyne’s cutback.
After somewhat of a lull, City found their rhythm again, and Foden expanded the lead just past the half-hour mark, rummaging from 20 yards into the bottom-right corner after being picked out by Mahrez.
At half-time, the hosts removed De Bruyne, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, with young Felix Nmecha and Taylor Harwood-Bellis joining alongside John Stones.
Only for VAR to confirm that Mahrez had strayed offside when latching on to Foden’s pass, City remained dominant and thought they had a fourth goal just past the hour.
As he pulled wide when the ball dropped kindly for him, Silva resisted the temptation to complete his hat-trick, and that appeared to be his final chance as City settled for a three-goal win.