Manchester City 6-1 Wycombe: Guardiola's side continue EFL Cup defence

Manchester City 6-1 Wycombe: Pep Guardiola’s side continue their defence of their Carabao Cup title as his young side – with five full debuts for academy prospects – thrashes League One opposition

  • Wycombe striker Brandon Hanlan scored his first ever goal for the club early after City failed to clear a corner
  • Kevin De Bruyne quickly restored parity for the hosts, playing in front of their own fans at the Etihad Stadium 
  • Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden made it 3-1 with two quick goals before half-time, which killed off the spectacle
  • Ferran Torres added gloss to the win with a fourth for City, with Mahrez and Cole Palmer adding two more

Phil Foden’s nipping out for his bus pass in the morning. An elder statesman now. For one evening, anyway.

Tuesday night brought five full debuts to kids from Manchester City’s academy – the entire back four were all 18, plus Romeo Lavia, a year their junior, in the Fernandinho role. James McAtee, a huge midfield prospect, later joined from the bench for his bow. For those reasons, this was one to savour for Pep Guardiola.

Foden will always be the academy’s beacon but they have been talking up its steady improvement – which is aided by strong recruitment – for some time, and here came some proof. 

Manchester City continued their Carabao cup title defence with a 6-1 thrashing of Wycombe

Manchester City (4-3-3): Steffen; Egan-Riley, Burns, Mbete, Wilson-Esbrand (McAtee 72); De Bruyne, Lavia, Foden; Mahrez, Torres (Palmer 72), Sterling.

Subs: Carson; Dias, Cancelo, Silva, Jesus.

Yellow cards: Lavia 40.

Goals: De Bruyne 29, Mahrez 43, Foden 45+1, Torres 72, Mahrez 83, Palmer 88.

Manager: Pep Guardiola. 

Wycombe (4-1-3-2): Stockdale; McCarthy, Stewart, Tafazolli, Jacobson; Gape (Scowen 75); Wheeler, Kaikai (Horgan 68), Obita; Akinfenwa (Vokes 65), Hanlan.

Subs: Przybek; Grimmer, Thompson, McCleary.

Goal: Hanlan 22. 

Manager: Gareth Ainsworth.

One of the newbies, Josh Wilson-Esbrand, caught the eye for the team’s third goal, galloping to the byline and waiting for the cavalry. 

Cutting back and picking out Riyad Mahrez to finish, the youngster looked every bit the Guardiola left back. Foden noticed, going over to congratulate him as others flocked towards Mahrez. The experienced guys tend to do that.

League One Wycombe Wanderers gave City a fright by taking the lead after 22 minutes but this ended as expected, with progression for the competition’s perennial victors.

Watching the might of Adebayo Akinfenwa roughen City’s teenage back line was some spectacle and provided a case study as to why the Premier League champions do not send their young defenders out on loan in the lower leagues. 

Akinfenwa, the old veteran, is coming to the end of a fine career but nobody is ever facing someone with his particular skillset in the top flight these days. 

The 39-year-old gravitated towards Finley Burns – signed from Southend United in 2017 – who possesses a slighter frame than his defensive partner, Luke Mbete. 

Both of them handled the constant physical barrage manfully on their first night out in front of a proper crowd. Mbete looks a supreme prospect, his passing range reminiscent of Aymeric Laporte.

Yet Wycombe were dangerous and City fell behind for seven first-half minutes. Zack Steffen failed to assert himself at Joe Jacobson’s inswinging corner, the set-piece pinged about, before Ryan Tafazolli was alive to Brandon Hanlan’s whereabouts, squaring for a tap-in. Wycombe’s 2,000 travelling supporters went delirious.

City, though, were out of sight by the break. Their senior attackers had been wasteful and so Foden – playing in a deeper midfield role – took matters into his own hands, bouncing off and away from three markers in midfield and slicing Wycombe open. 

Kevin De Bruyne accepted the gift and would not miss, cutting in and guiding into the far corner. More followed. The talk earlier in the day was that Wilson-Esbrand had the most significant audition given City’s left back situation and the assist will have done him no harm. He waited for the correct moment to pull back and Mahrez gleefully swept home.

That was a couple of minutes before half-time and Foden has his goal as they headed down the tunnel. He gathered possession 25 yards out, looked up and fancied it, pummelling a ferocious strike through David Stockdale.

Guardiola will be encouraged at CJ Egan-Riley’s positional awareness from right back, tucking into midfield, and also one particular tactical foul by Lavia.

Ferran Torres tapped home a fourth midway through the second half – De Bruyne and Foden the architects – and Mahrez added his second. Then it was left for Cole Palmer to wander from halfway, sizing up his options, and bend a first senior goal on his fifth appearance. 

More to follow

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