Jack Grealish praised Phil Foden for a Lionel Messi-esque assist to set up his first FA Cup goal, as Manchester City saw off a tough challenge from Peterborough.
It was by no means an easy game for Man City against the Championship strugglers, despite what the scoreline may suggest, and Pep Guardiola’s side were frustrated in the first half – failing to have a single shot on target.
But, as they did against Everton at the weekend, Man City recovered from their poor first half to eventually get the win thanks to two goals, first from Riyad Mahrez and then Grealish.
The Englishman has had a slow start to life at the Etihad, with criticism enhanced following the British transfer-record fee Man City paid for him last summer.
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But this was a reminder of the class Grealish does have, brilliantly taking down Foden’s long pass before coolly finishing past Benda to ensure Man City were the first name in the hat for the FA Cup quarter-final draw. His first FA Cup goal at the 13th time of asking, Grealish will be hoping he can build on the strike and kickstart his Man City career.
Man City fans will also be hoping to see more of the partnership between Grealish and Foden on the pitch, with the former admitting there was something Messi-esque about the latter’s assist.
“Do you know what’s funny? Before the game, obviously we were on the coach on the way here and I sit next to Phil,” Grealish told ITV.
“And I was scrolling through Twitter and a video of Messi come up and it was like Messi’s passing.
“And me and Phil were just watching it. As soon as he passed that ball obviously I scored and he came running over to me and while we were celebrating he says ‘just like what we were watching before the game’.
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“Just like Messi, wasn’t it, his pass. Obviously I have that kind of link up with Phil, it’s been a long time coming because I don’t think he’s assisted me yet. But it was a good moment for myself.”
It was also a big day for Mahrez in opening the scoring, from another Foden assist. Man City were probing in the early stages of the second half but still looked to be struggling until Mahrez received the ball from Foden just on the edge of the Peterborough area.
The Algerian, instead of looking for a cross, went for a more direct route and ran at Hayden Coulson, cutting onto his left foot. With very little backlift he then neatly curled the ball through Coulson’s leg into the bottom left corner, past Steven Benda to give Man City the lead.
He has now scored 19 goals for Man City across all competitions, making this his best attacking return in a single campaign. Yes, even better than 2015/16 when he netted 18 goals across all competitions including 17 in the Premier League to help Leicester City win their fairytale title.
Mahrez has also become the key man for Man City having looked out of favour at times, scoring more goals than any other player for the club this season. His closest teammate is Raheem Sterling, but the Englishman is back on 13. In fact, only Mohamed Salah has more goals across all competitions this season for a Premier League side.
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