Iheanacho shines as City cruise into last eight
Capital One Cup Fourth Round
Wednesday 28 October 2015, 19.45 KO
City: Caballero, Zabaleta (Sanga 56), Mangala, Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernando, Toure, Navas, De Bruyne (Roberts 75), Iheanacho, Bony (M Garcia 84)
Unused: Hart, Kompany, Otamendi, Barker
Goals: Bony (22), De Bruyne (44), Iheanacho (59), Toure (pen 76), M Garcia (90+3)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Man of the match: Iheanacho
City qualified for the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup with a comfortable 5-1 victory against Crystal Palace, thanks in no small part to an impressive full debut from Kelechi Iheanacho. The Nigerian youngster scored one and created two more, and clearly enjoys playing against Alan Pardew's side; his first professional goal was a last-minute winner at Selhurst Park in September.
Earlier in the day, ex-City academy player Devante Cole, son of the unabashed Andy (sorry, Andrew), had been fiercely critical of the club, claiming that foreign youngsters were being favoured. He may feel vindicated after Iheanacho's performance, and a late goal scoring cameo from 17 year-old Spaniard Manu Garcia, but in truth his interview smacked of sour grapes. Ability, rather than nationality, is the only key criteria for progess in City's much vaunted academy, and Iheanacho possesses it in abundance.
Calm and assured in front of goal, the striker also displayed great awareness and vision when creating goals for Kevin De Bruyne and Garcia. Manuel Pellegrini lauded his display, and predicted a bright future for the youngster. "I had no doubt in him – I see how he works every day and his personality is important and it’s important for him to play with important players", said Pellegrini.
The Chilean made six changes in total to the starting XI which had drawn at Old Trafford, with Martin Demichelis partnering Eliaquim Mangala in central defence and Willy Caballero was given a rare outing.
Wilfried Bony, who had been criticised following his lacklustre display in the Manchester derby, opened the scoring with a firm header from an Aleksandar Kolarov corner after 22 minutes. Just before half time, Iheanacho presented De Bruyne with an unmissable opportunity at the far post following a neat passing move by the Blues, and the Belgian doubled City's advantage. It was perhaps harsh on Palace, who had created several openings themselves in the opening 45 minutes.
The game was put beyond doubt by Iheanacho on the hour mark, when he calmly finished a De Bruyne cross to make it 3-0. Yaya Toure added a fourth from the penalty spot, before Damien Delaney scored a late consolation for the visitors, planting a firm header past Caballero. There was still time, however, for the highly regarded Garcia to round off the scoring. The Spanish youngster collected Iheanacho's pass in acres of space and cooly slotted under Wayne Hennessey to complete a statisfying evening for Pellegrini.
The Blues will now face Hull City in the quarter finals, and are odds-on favourites to win the competition, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United already eliminated.