Ruthless Man City hit tier two Rotherham United for seven
Pep Guardiola picks a strong side for third round clash with Kevin De Bruyne starting
Raheem Sterling scores Manchester City’s third in their rout of Rotherham. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty
Manchester City required only low gear to rout Rotherham United and coast into the FA Cup fourth round - 7-0 being the highest margin of victory of the Pep Guardiola reign.
Riyad Mahrez’s 73rd-minute finish was indicative of the contest. When Guardiola’s men wanted to they could inject extra quality and score. So it was when City roved forward and split their visitors apart, Ilkay Gündogan’s pass being finished superbly by the Algerian to make it 5-0.
Guardiola made eight changes from Thursday’s win over Liverpool here, retaining only Ederson, John Stones, and Raheem Sterling. Paul Warne’s adjustments ran to three as he drafted in Zak Vyner, Anthony Forde and Clark Robertson from the New Year’s Day victory over Preston North End.
As the Championship’s fourth-bottom team the expectation was that Rotherham would be under siege for most of the tie and so it was, City creating a slew of chances.
Kevin De Bruyne was making a first start for close to three weeks and he pulled the strings. An early chip from the right should have been headed in by Gabriel Jesus yet from near-in the bar was hit. Later, Sterling ran through but Semi Ajayi did enough to end the danger; then Mahrez smacked the ball over from the right but no blue shirt could finish.
Now, City did strike. Sterling passed to De Bruyne along the left and on continuing his run received the ball back: his finish was cool and precise beyond Marek Rodak.
After the half hour a De Bruyne ball came to Jesus but, again, he lacked composure, got his feet mixed up, and miskicked.
Before this City had a real scare. Nicolás Otamendi sold Ederson short with a back-pass and the goalkeeper sold Stones even shorter, the latter scrambling hard to touch the ball to safety.
This proved an augury of a late first-half Rotherham flurry of goal-mouth action as Ederson had to punch one high ball away in an action that also left Jon Taylor and Stones floored momentarily.
But, then, Phil Foden showed a killer if lucky touch from a neat Gündogan lob, his attempted control proving a stabbed finish that wrong-footed Rodak.
If this made it difficult what occurred in added time before the interval put the Millers to bed. Kyle Walker rolled in a cross and, with Sterling pressuring him, the unfortunate Ajayi turned the ball into his own net.
This was two goals in two minutes and as the second half began Rotherham were surely in damage limitation mode.
Wil Vaulks, the visiting captain, did not suggest this would go well. From a Mahrez scuffed cross Vaulks might have suffered the embarrassment of conceding a needless penalty but David Coote, the referee, was unmoved.
A fourth City goal soon arrived, though. This was made by a sublime Sterling run that made a mug of Joe Mattock: he was left witnessing an equally impressive layoff to Jesus and this time the Brazilian could not miss.
When De Bruyne fashioned the next opportunity to derive from his relentless self Jesus did spurn this: the ball running between his legs. This was about the end of the Belgian’s thoroughbred contribution as Guardiola replaced him on 67 minutes with Philippe Sandler, the 21-year-old Dutchman making his debut.
Towards the close Otamendi headed home a Gündogan corner and Leroy Sané, on for De Bruyne, hit the seventh.