FA Cup: Covid-stricken Manchester City beat Swindon 4-1 to reach fourth round

Cole Palmer showed he has “the talent and the ingredients” to make a big impact for Manchester City after starring in their FA Cup third round win at Swindon, according to assistant manager Rodolfo Borrel.

The 19-year-old midfielder scored one goal and scored another against the League Two side in his first FA Cup appearance after getting a start in the absence of several first-team players who tested positive for Covid-19.

“He’s a great player who is still developing quite a bit, but there’s a lot of talent there,” Borrell told ITV Sport. “Hopefully he can play more games with us very soon, like” [team-mate and England midfielder] Phil Foden a few years ago.

“They are completely different players. Phil Foden has had more opportunities and he is established. Cole has the talent and the ingredients.”

City manager Pep Guardiola was missing from the dugout at a packed County Ground as he and 20 of his players and staff went into seclusion after they tested positive for the virus.

Despite seven first-team players being among those unable to travel, the Premier League leaders proclaimed a strong squad and were merciless against a side 72 places lower in the English football pyramid.

Bernardo Silva got a low cross from Palmer to give last year’s defeated semi-finalists an early lead, with Gabriel Jesus making two after the Robins gave the visitors the ball on the edge of the area.

Ilkay Gundogan defeated Lewis Ward with a free kick from 25 yards to make it 3-0 but Swindon’s goalkeeper did well to save a Jesus penalty minutes later after Silva fouled by Jordan Lyden in the penalty area .

Harry McKirdy scored late for the hosts, but Palmer completed the score for City with a brilliant finish from a tight corner.

Palmer said he “enjoyed” the game and hopes Guardiola did the same despite him not being there.

“There always comes a little bit of pressure in the team to be young, but you have to go out and enjoy it,” he said.

Depleted City is still full of stars

Cole Palmer scores fourth in Manchester City against Swindon
Cole Palmer’s goal against Swindon was his first in the FA Cup

While Guardiola had to watch the game from afar, his assistant – and stand-in boss to Swindon – Borrell revealed before the game that the 50-year-old would remain “connected” with those who made the trip to Wiltshire.

Four changes were made to the City side who defeated Arsenal 2-1 on Saturday, despite the club having been hit by an outbreak since that game.

Raheem Sterling, Foden and Jack Grealish were among those not traveling but defender Kyle Walker was recalled and midfielder Gundogan was given the captain’s armband on his return to base.

Midfielder Palmer immediately impressed with some fine work on the edge of the penalty area to create space to knock Silva off for a close-range finish for the opener.

Silva could have scored a hat-trick before half-time, but lost chances on either side of that goal.

Swindon gave City their second as they tried to play it out from the back. Jesus collected possession and traded passes with Kevin de Bruyne before coolly beating Ward.

Gundogan’s free kick just before the hour put the result beyond doubt, but Ward’s penalty and McKirdy’s fine low finish to beat Zack Steffen to his near post gave Swindon fans plenty to celebrate, although Palmer emphasized City’s dominance with the choice of targets leaves on.

Ward again did well to narrow the deficit in the last minute of normal time by tapping a fierce attempt by Rodri on the crossbar.

For Swindon, hosting the Premier League champions was a big boost for a squad that is still rebuilding under owner Clem Morfuni.

When the Australian businessman completed his takeover just three weeks before the start of the season, Swindon had no manager and only nine senior players on their books.

McKirdy, who scored four of Swindon’s five goals in their league win against Northampton six days earlier, gave the home fans a moment to revel as Ben Garner’s side counterattacked the six-time FA Cup winners.

But by then City’s place in Saturday’s fourth round draw – which will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport website before Arsenal’s trip to Nottingham Forest at 17:10 GMT – had been sealed.



Formation 3-1-4-2

  • 12department
  • 24Hunt
  • 4Conroy
  • 2Odimayois replaced byCrichlowBee 71′minutes
  • 25reedis replaced byEastBee 87′minutes
  • 22Hayden
  • 8The sound
  • 7gladwinis replaced byWilliamsBee 71′minutes
  • 3Iandolo
  • 11McKirdyis replaced bydabreBee 87′minutes
  • 9Simpsonis replaced byParsonsBee 83′minutes


  • 5Crichlow
  • 13Mildenhall
  • 16O’Brien
  • 20Williams
  • 26East
  • 29Parsons
  • 30dabre
  • 32Kumeadow
  • 42Scholarship

Man City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 13steffen
  • 2hikerBooked at 80 minutes
  • 3Ruben Dias
  • 6Whatis replaced bymortal remainsBee 86′minutes
  • 27Cancel
  • 17De Bruyneis replaced byMcAteeBee 66′minutesBooked at 90 minutes
  • 16RodricBooked at 64 minutes
  • 8Gundoganis replaced bylaviaBee 83′minutes
  • 80palmeris replaced byKaykyBee 86′minutes
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 9Gabriel Jesus


  • 14The door
  • 33carson
  • 37Kayky
  • 52bobbie
  • 56Egan-Riley
  • 79mortal remains
  • 84slicker
  • 87McAtee
  • 90lavia

Darren England


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