Manchester City's Raheem Sterling scores their second goal during their match against Swansea City at Liberty Stadium, Wales, on Wednesday. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
A jam-packed calendar could not thwart a resolute Manchester City from breaking the 130-year old record of the most consecutive victories by a top flight team across all the competitions.
A rampant City defeated Swansea 3-1 to notch up their 15th successive win en route to their FA Cup quarter-finals on a night which also witnessed a high-voltage drama, featuring Tottenham and Everton, wherein the latter emerged winner in a nine-goal thriller.
City broke the Preston's 130-year record of the 14 straight wins by going one better, raising the mark to 15th in a row, keeping their hopes of another domestic treble alive with the emphatic run.
City have been in a stellar form during the pandemic, when matches in the Premier League or domestic cup competitions have been stacked into a jam-packed fixtures and are being played every three or four days to fit them into a condensed season that kicked off a month later than usual.
Indeed, by also advancing last month to the English League Cup final, City have played every weekend and midweek since Nov. 21 - except for an eight-day break from Dec. 26-Jan. 3 during which the team’s training ground was closed because of a coronavirus outbreak. The number of first-team players to test positive ran into double figures.
City won 20 straight games in all competitions from August-December 2017, also under Guardiola, but one of those victories came in a penalty shootout in the League Cup after a 0-0 draw after extra time.
Guardiola earned his 200th win in 268 games in charge of City.
However, it was a historic night for very different reasons for his long-time coaching rival, Jose Mourinho.
For just the third time in a managerial career spanning nearly 1,000 games, Mourinho saw one of his teams concede five goals in a game as Tottenham lost a thriller at Goodison Park.
Bernard netted the winning goal in the 97th minute for Everton, which trailed after three minutes, scored three goals in seven minutes near the end of the first half to forge ahead, then conceded a goal to Harry Kane with seven minutes left of regulation time to be taken to extra time.
Also advancing to the last eight on Wednesday was Sheffield United, a 1-0 winner against second-tier Bristol City, and Leicester, which beat Brighton by the same score thanks to Kelechi Iheanacho’s goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Manchester United and Bournemouth progressed on Tuesday.
In the 2018-19 season, City became the first English team to achieve the domestic treble, beating Swansea en route to winning the FA Cup that year by coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
City didn’t need to produce anything as dramatic this time, taking the lead in the 30th when Kyle Walker’s low cross into the penalty area was missed by the sliding Ferran Torres at the near post and ended up creeping inside the far post.
Rodri played in Raheem Sterling to double the advantage in the 47th, before Gabriel Jesus controlled a header across goal by Bernardo Silva and slammed in a left-footed shot three minutes later.
Morgan Whittaker grabbed a consolation for Swansea, which included two United States internationals -- Jordan Morris, who made his first start, and Paul Arriola, who made his debut as a second-half substitute following his loan move from D.C. United. Their US teammate, Zeck Steffen, played in goal for City.
The only other times a team managed by Mourinho conceded five goals in a match were when Real Madrid was thrashed 5-0 by Barcelona and Chelsea was beaten 5-3 at Tottenham.
Harry Kane came off the bench to make it 4-4 with his 209th goal for Tottenham in 318 appearances in all competitions, taking him past Bobby Smith to become second-highest scorer in Spurs’ history behind only Jimmy Greaves (266 in 379).
Everton reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2016.
City were far from their flowing best at Goodison Park after Pep Guardiola made six changes from the side that cruised into the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek with a routine 2-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in Budapest.
Chelsea joined Manchester City and Southampton in the FA Cup semi-finals as Oliver Norwood’s own goal and a late Hakim Ziyech strike sealed a 2-0 win against Sheffield United on Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, City remained on course
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said he expects Manchester City to cruise to the Premier League title after Pep Guardiola’s men opened up a 10-point lead at the top of the table with a 3-1 win at Goodison Park on Wednesday. Riyad Mahrez scored the pick of the goals in between
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