Manchester City moved into the FA Cup fifth round in dramatic fashion as Nathan Ake’s controversial late goal clinched the holders’ 1-0 win against Tottenham on Friday.
As the football world digested the stunning news that Jurgen Klopp will step down as Liverpool boss at the end of this season, the club who might benefit most from his exit finally ended their wait for a first victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
City had lost all five of their previous visits to Tottenham’s plush arena without scoring a goal since the stadium opened in April 2019.
But Dutch defender Ake ensured City would leave north London on a high at last when he stabbed home with just two minutes left in the fourth round clash.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won their last seven games in all competitions to maintain their renaissance after a pre-Christmas wobble.
They are five points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool but hold a game in hand and will hope to capitalise on any uncertainty created by Klopp’s bombshell announcement.
Klopp and Guardiola have fought an intense rivalry during their time in England, with the City boss largely coming out on top in the silverware stakes.
City won all three major prizes last season and remain firmly in the hunt to retain the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
With star striker Erling Haaland still sidelined by injury, Guardiola’s men were initially profligate in north London.
Oscar Bobb teed up Phil Foden late in the first half but his strike flashed wide.
Julian Alvarez looked certain to score when he latched on Bobb’s superb pass in the Tottenham area, but Micky van de Ven threw his body in the way to deflect the shot wide.
Brennan Johnson nearly punished City’s lack of cutting edge as he accelerated onto Timo Werner’s pass for a shot that drew a good save from Stefan Ortega.
Guardiola sent on Kevin De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku for the last 25 minutes as the Belgian duo step up their returns from injury.
City leave it late
De Bruyne was making his third substitute appearance since recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in the first game this season.
Tottenham midfielder James Maddison came off the bench in the closing stages for his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in November.
Bernardo Silva’s shot was repelled by Guglielmo Vicario before De Bruyne dragged his effort wide after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg gave the ball away.
But City’s pressure was finally rewarded in the 88th minute as Vicario, under pressure from Ruben Dias, made a hash of catching De Bruyne’s corner.
Ake prodded in from close-range and the goal survived a prolonged VAR check.
In the other fourth round action on Friday, Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by Aston Villa as both sides squandered opportunities at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea had scored six in their previous outing, dispatching Middlesbrough to reach next month’s League Cup final against Liverpool.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s men found Villa a tougher nut as a combined 23 shots from both sides failed to yield a winner.
In a rematch of the 2000 FA Cup final won by Chelsea, John McGinn spurned Villa’s best chances in each half.
Villa’s Douglas Luiz also had a first half effort disallowed for handball by the Brazilian before he finished.
Emiliano Martinez made fine saves from Chelsea’s Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer to set up a replay at Villa Park.
Nottingham Forest were held to a 0-0 draw by Championship giant-killers Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
City enjoyed a shock win over West Ham in a third round replay earlier in January and once again they made life difficult for Premier League opponents.
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