Sergio Aguero’s late winner saw Manchester City dramatically keep their quadruple bid on track by coming from two goals down to beat Swansea and reach the FA Cup semi-finals.
Substitute Aguero beat Swansea keeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt with a diving header off Bernardo Silva’s low cross at the end of a superb move in the 88th minute.
Replays showed the Argentina striker was marginally offside but the video assistant review system was not in use at the Liberty Stadium, despite having been used in City’s third and fourth-round ties at their Etihad Stadium home.
City had levelled in contentious circumstances too when Cameron Carter-Vickers was judged to have tripped replacement Raheem Sterling in the area and Aguero’s penalty hit the post before rebounding in off Nordfeldt for an own goal.
Defeat was harsh on the impressive hosts, who led 2-0 inside 30 minutes through Matt Grimes’ penalty and Bersant Celina’s spectacular second.
The former City player, who was mocked for an extraordinary penalty miss against West Brom on Wednesday, curled a sumptuous first-time effort beyond Ederson at the end of a tremendous, flowing move.
City fielded a strong side but needed Sterling and Aguero to come off the bench to shake them out of their fatigue, the latter setting up Bernardo Silva for the visitors’ opener, which sparked their thrilling comeback in the last half hour.
Sterling and Sergio finally stir City
Having scored 16 goals in three previous FA Cup games this season and after thrashing Schalke 7-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday, City’s bright start to this game seemed to indicate that this would be another stroll.
Yet after missing a few chances, with Nordfeldt also making two fine saves, the front three of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez started to lose their composure – and so did City’s defence.
Fabian Delph, who was sent off in his side’s fifth-round defeat by Wigan last year, was caught out by Connor Roberts’ deft touch to bring down a long pass and felled the Swansea right-back from behind to concede a clear penalty for the opener.
The visitors then failed to track the runners as Swansea swept forward, leaving Celina unmarked for the second.
The Premier League leaders carried limited threat in the early stages of the second half and looked on course for a tame exit to a side who are 15th in the Championship.
Yet Sterling and Aguero proved to be the difference after they were brought on either side of the hour mark, the latter calmly picking out Bernardo after his own effort was blocked before the Portugal midfielder curved a fine effort into the far corner.
Sterling then feinted past Carter-Vickers before falling under the challenge. Andre Marriner awarded a penalty but replays suggested the centre-back touched the ball before clipping Sterling’s ankle, and Swansea’s injustice was compounded by Aguero’s fortunate conversion.
Pep Guardiola’s ruthless side were not prepared to settle for extra-time, pushing forward once more and working the ball out to Bernardo on the left of the area to pick out Aguero perfectly, with the lack of VAR working in City’s favour.
Unlucky Swans almost pull off a shock
Swansea are having a disappointing season in the Championship, but they took on the Premier League champions with a brave and assured performance.
They rode their luck early on, allowing Sane too much space out wide on several occasions, but took advantage of an increasingly disjointed City to go ahead on 20 minutes when Grimes sent Ederson the wrong way from the spot.
Swansea’s second was a goal you would more readily associate with a Guardiola-coached side.
Nordfeldt played out from the back, and two passes later Swansea had released the rapid Daniel James down the left. He cut inside and found the onrushing Nathan Dyer, who picked out Celina to finish.
Even when City surged back, the hosts put in fine blocks to deny them, with Roberts repelling David Silva’s close-range shot on the line and Nordfeldt particularly impressive.
The Sweden keeper made a stunning double save at 2-2, pushing Jesus’ header onto the post before flicking out his leg to deny Aguero’s follow-up.
But ultimately his side could not withstand the onslaught to at least force extra-time.
A first two-goal comeback under Pep – match stats
- Manchester City came from two or more goals down to win for the first time in any competition under Guardiola.
- City have scored more goals than any other side in the FA Cup this season (19).
- They have also benefitted from seven own goals in all competitions this season, more than any other Premier League side.
- Aguero has been involved in 22 goals in 20 FA Cup appearances for Manchester City (18 goals, four assists).
- Bernardo Silva has scored 10 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions for Man City this season, one more than he managed in 53 games in 2017-18.
- Swansea found the net with both of their shots on target in this match.