FA Cup Third Round
Saturday 5 January 2013, 15.00 KO
City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Garcia (Sinclair 74), Barry, Milner, Silva (Lopes 88), Tevez, Dzeko (Balotelli 71)
Unused: Hart, Rekik, Nastasic, Suarez
Goals: Tevez (24), Barry (44), Lopes (90+1)
Booked: Garcia, Zabaleta
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: James Milner
It was the home side who made the brighter start and they needed to with the visiting fans creating a good atmosphere in the Etihad. Tevez drilled a low effort towards the back post where Dzeko wasn’t able to redirect the ball on target, but it signalled the home side’s intent for the match. With ten minutes player, the blues were all out attack after a series of corners, but the away side were able to deal with them comfortably.
Zabaleta had a blast at goal as the ball rebounded to him in the box and it took two solid hands from the goalkeeper to palm it away, before City had a goal disallowed. Kompany poked the ball towards the net from a corner and it took several deflections before nestling into the bottom corner, but the linesman flagged and ruled it out.
Two minutes later, though, the ball was in the Watford net again and this time it wasn’t disallowed. Tevez was felled on the edge of the box by Eustace and the Argentine striker got up to take the free kick. He powered it straight past the wall and into the side of the net, putting the champions ahead.
Immediately, the Championship side had the chance to equalise: A mix-up in the City back-line allowed Forestieri to run clean through and had all the time in the world in a one-on-one with Pantilimon. The Watford man, though, couldn’t beat the goalkeeper and the Romanian blocked it well.
Seven minutes before half time, City nearly had their second. The ball was worked well down the right flank and Milner picked out Silva at the back post. He unleashed a vicious effort that looked destined for the top corner, but it was headed behind before it could trouble Bond in the Watford goal.
A minute before the break, the hosts had doubled their lead. This time, the ball was worked down the left through Silva and Milner and, after some neat touches to keep possession, the Spaniard picked out the Englishman and it was his cross the found Barry inside the six-yard box. He nodded his effort towards the bottom corner and there was nothing Bond could do to keep it out.
The second half started much in the same manner as the first for City, who fashioned the first chance within seconds. Tevez burst free down the right flank and cut into the area to fire a cross-come-shot through the six-yard box. It just missed the far post and Dzeko couldn’t stretch enough to get the vital touch.
The home fans were baying for a red card on 55 minutes, as Deeney slid in to challenge a short pass back to Pantilimon and caught the Romanian goalkeeper after the ball had gone. He saw yellow and to send him off would have been a harsh call.
On the hour mark, Milner drilled a ball through the box towards Tevez who was inches away from converting. This was just a few moments after Milner himself had almost added City’s third with a deft touch over Bond in the Watford goal.
There was almost an instant impact from Balotelli as his first touches of the ball resulted in his first effort at goal: He turned on the edge of the box and unleashed a good shot towards the bottom corner. Bond spilled it straight to Tevez, but the Argentine striker was just offside as his team-mate shot and play was pulled back.
With five minutes to play, Deeney almost pulled a goal back for the visitors, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner. It would have made the final few minutes interesting had it found the back of the home side’s net.
But it was the hosts who rounded off the game with a goal. A minute into stoppage time and just three minutes after coming on as a substitute for his debut, Lopes latched onto a rebound after another Balotelli effort was spilled by Bond. The youngster slid the ball into the bottom corner and celebrated his first appearance for City by getting his name on the scoresheet, securing City’s place in the fourth round draw.