Ake strikes late as Man City oust Spurs from FA Cup

Manchester City’s Dutch defender #06 Nathan Ake (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 26, 2024. AFP

Manchester City moved into the FA Cup fifth round in dramatic fashion as Nathan Ake’s controversial late goal clinched the holders’ 1-0 win against Tottenham on Friday.

As the football world digested the stunning news that Jurgen Klopp will step down as Liverpool boss at the end of this season, the club who might benefit most from his exit finally ended their wait for a first victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

City had lost all five of their previous visits to Tottenham’s plush arena without scoring a goal since the stadium opened in April 2019.

But Dutch defender Ake ensured City would leave north London on a high at last when he stabbed home with just two minutes left in the fourth round clash.

“Today we performed incredibly well. Everything pleased me, from minute one to the end,” City boss Pep Guardiola said.

Guardiola’s side have won their last seven games in all competitions to maintain their renaissance after a pre-Christmas wobble.

They are five points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool but hold a game in hand and will hope to capitalise on any uncertainty created by Klopp’s bombshell announcement.

“He’s been my biggest rival so I think he will be missed. I’m a little bit pleased because without him I will sleep a little bit better the night before we play against Liverpool,” Guardiola said.

Klopp and Guardiola have fought an intense rivalry during their time in England, with the City boss largely coming out on top in the silverware stakes.

City won all three major prizes last season and remain firmly in the hunt to retain the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

With star striker Erling Haaland still sidelined by injury, Guardiola’s men were initially profligate in north London.

Oscar Bobb teed up Phil Foden late in the first half but his strike flashed wide.

Julian Alvarez looked certain to score when he latched on Bobb’s superb pass in the Tottenham area, but Micky van de Ven threw his body in the way to deflect the shot wide.

Guardiola sent on Kevin De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku for the last 25 minutes as the Belgian duo step up their returns from injury.

Chelsea held by Villa

Bernardo Silva’s shot was repelled by Guglielmo Vicario before De Bruyne dragged his effort wide after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg gave the ball away.

But City’s pressure was finally rewarded in the 88th minute as Vicario, under pressure from Ruben Dias, made a hash of catching De Bruyne’s corner.

Ake prodded in from close-range and the goal survived a prolonged VAR check.

“I’m sure they had a good look at it and the referee and VAR didn’t see anything wrong with it. We have to accept it,” Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou said.

In the other fourth round action on Friday, Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by Aston Villa as both sides squandered opportunities at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had scored six in their previous outing, dispatching Middlesbrough to reach next month’s League Cup final against Liverpool.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s men found Villa a tougher nut as a combined 23 shots from both sides failed to yield a winner.

In a rematch of the 2000 FA Cup final won by Chelsea, John McGinn spurned Villa’s best chances in each half.

Emiliano Martinez made fine saves from Chelsea’s Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer to set up a replay at Villa Park.

“The performance was good, we just weren’t clinical enough. To face a team like Aston Villa who are doing fantastic in the Premier League, I think it’s a very good signal that we are improving,” Pochettino said.

Nottingham Forest were held to a 0-0 draw by Championship giant-killers Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

City enjoyed a shock win over West Ham in a third round replay earlier in January and once again they made life difficult for Premier League opponents.

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