FA Cup: Five-star Manchester City crush Huddersfield as Kevin De Bruyne returns

Phil Foden scores twice to help City ease into fourth round with 5-0 win

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Manchester City sailed into the fourth round of the FA Cup as Phil Foden scored twice in a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Sunday, but the bigger news was playmaker Kevin De Bruyne making a welcome return after four months out with a hamstring injury.

Fielding a strong side, City suffered a setback when they lost defender Manuel Akanji to injury early in the first half, but Foden's superb finishing and De Bruyne's comeback gave City supporters and manager Pep Guardiola plenty of reasons to be happy about.

Huddersfield, just above the relegation zone in second-tier Championship, fell behind in the 33rd minute when Foden rifled the ball into the net from a tight angle, and striker Julian Alvarez poked home a second four minutes later.

De Bruyne entered the field in the 57th minute and City added their third a minute later as Norwegian winger Oscar Bobb tried to pick out the Belgian at the far post, only to see his deflected cross go into the net to make it 3-0.

Foden added his second with a precise shot from the edge of the area in the 65th minute, and nine minutes later De Bruyne teed up fellow substitute Jeremy Doku to complete the rout.

"We are incredibly delighted to have him back because Kevin helps to win games. It is so important to have him back after a long injury," Guardiola said.

"He will help us with his talent but I don't want to put all the pressure on Kevin's shoulders because it is not fair.

"Of course he has a special ability and quality to do something that is difficult to find. Kevin is exceptional. He is unique."

The in-form Foden was again impressive but De Bruyne's comeback was arguably of greater significance.

The Belgian was given just over half an hour at the end of the game and he marked the occasion by teeing up a goal for fellow returnee Doku.

His presence brought some of the biggest cheers of the afternoon from the home fans.

Yet Huddersfield, not surprisingly given their struggles in the second tier this season, could not match the intensity of their fans as City comfortably outplayed them.

The visitors resisted well for the opening half an hour, limiting Alvarez to a long-range shot which was comfortably saved by Lee Nicholls while Bobb had an effort unwittingly blocked by team-mate Rico Lewis.

The visitors showed some spirit by launching a handful of counter-attacks but the final ball was generally lacking.

Sorba Thomas did get through on goal on one occasion but he failed to beat Stefan Ortega and the offside flag indicated it would not have counted anyway.

City suffered a blow when Akanji limped off after a heavy challenge from Alex Matos, who was booked, but they soon began to step up the pressure.

Huddersfield were pegged back as Sergio Gomez had a low ball turned behind and a Foden shot was deflected to safety.

The opener came on 33 minutes as Mateo Kovacic slipped in Alvarez and his firm pass was well taken and rifled in by Foden at close range.

The second followed just four minutes later as Matheus Nunes linked with Foden and then found Lewis, who squared for Alvarez to stretch and poke home.

Bobb went close early in the second half as he cut inside but dragged his shot wide.

De Bruyne was introduced on 57 minutes in a double change that also saw Doku make his return from injury.

City claimed their third goal moments later as Nunes controlled a high ball and played wide to Bobb, whose attempted cross to De Bruyne at the far post flicked off Ben Jackson and looped into the net.

Huddersfield had a brief flurry as Thomas forced Ortega to save with his feet when through one on one but City's fourth was not long in coming.

Again Foden did the damage, calmly stroking the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area from a well-worked short-corner routine.

De Bruyne created the fifth as he surged upfield, played a one-two with Bobb and then pulled the ball back for Doku to thump in on the half-volley.

Updated: January 07, 2024, 6:01 PM