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Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City a deserved win over Middlesbrough and earned Pep Guardiola’s side a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Silva scored just three minutes in from six yards out after Pablo Zabaleta had time and space to cross low from the right.
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan produced a number of fine saves to deny Silva, Leroy Sane and deflect an Aguero shot on to the post.
But Aguero finally made the result safe for the visitors when he converted from Sane’s low cross to earn his side a Wembley semi-final.
City have reached the last four of the FA Cup for the first time in four years as Guardiola aims to win some silverware in his first season in English football.
The Spanish manager also had the luxury of taking off Sane and Aguero before City play the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie in Monaco on Wednesday. City hold a 5-3 lead after a thrilling first leg.
Easy for dominant City
City had defeated West Ham, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town so far in the competition and completely dominated against Middlesbrough.
The visitors had 69% of possession and 10 shots on target compared with only three from the hosts at a packed Riverside Stadium.
City’s movement off the ball was excellent as they repeatedly carved open a Boro defence that could not cope with the visitors.
Poor marking enabled Zabaleta to get free early on and his low cross was missed by Raheem Sterling before Silva lashed City ahead.
Only an outstanding performance by Guzan kept his side in it as he produced a number of saves to frustrate the visitors.
Aguero, who had earlier hit the post, got a goal he deserved when he finished well from the delivery from the excellent Sane.
Injury problems for struggling Boro
For Middlesbrough, 18th in the Premier League, it was another afternoon to forget.
Not only were they outclassed, they also suffered two injuries to key players as forward Rudy Gestede and defender Bernardo limped off.
Gestede had two attempts – heading just over and also having a header cleared off the line by Pablo Zabaleta – before going off after only 26 minutes with what appeared to be a lower back injury.
Boro have scored the fewest goals in the Premier League – 19 in 27 matches – and may now be without a striker who only joined them in January in a £6m move from Aston Villa.
Defender Bernardo also went off early in the second half with 19-year-old centre-half Dael Fry coming on to make only his second appearance of the season.
Boro, against the run of play, had a late chance to score but John Stones cleared off the line after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had parried Fabio’s header.
With 11 Premier League games left, Boro can now focus their attentions on trying to stay in the top flight.
Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live
It’s not all about the FA Cup, they need to survive in the Premier League too, but Middlesbrough really couldn’t have done much when City are in this form. They have had a football lesson.
City were always going to win this, we knew that when we saw the team sheet. They had put the big boys on the pitch.
Full credit to Middlesbrough. They are an honest, genuine side but were just lacking in a class finisher. It was 2-0 but it could have been a lot, lot more.
I do fear for Middlesbrough. They have got to be more adventurous against teams in the bottom half – the ones you think they should beat.
They are currently playing a counter-attacking game and, apart from Adama Traore, they don’t have the legs to get forward quickly.
Man of the match – Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough)
Another semi-final for Guardiola – the stats
- Manchester City have reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the third time in six seasons (also in 2011 and 2013).
- City boss Pep Guardiola has now reached a semi-final in all eight of his seasons in club management.
- David Silva has been directly involved in five goals in his past five FA Cup appearances (two goals, three assists).
- Silva’s goal was the earliest Manchester City have scored this season and the quickest Boro have conceded.
- Middlesbrough have failed to score in five of their past six matches.
- Boro have failed to score in 14 games this season, with seven of those coming since the turn of the year.
What the managers said
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka, speaking to BBC Sport, said: “It is easy to say that the best team won, but I am really proud of my players – they made an amazing effort.
“This is the way we need to keep competing because we will win more than lose. The past two games were awful for us so I was a bit concerned about the atmosphere when they scored the first goal so quickly, but they keep going, with high pressure, trying to win back the ball.
“As a coach you can’t be more proud of your players. I have told them now that I take much more positive things than negative.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “We were outstanding from the beginning. We have now played three teams from the Premier League and one from the Championship.
“We played a good performance and were there from the first minute. We have missed a lot of chances throughout the season and the game should have been over 30 minutes before. We need to improve that, but I am happy and we can play Monaco.
“When you attack good, you defend good. We want to play in this way. Claudio made a good performance and that is why we were able to have another clean sheet. I like to work with these guys. I’m so happy.”
Manchester City are back in Champions League action against Monaco on Wednesday (19:45 GMT kick-off).
Both City and Middlesbrough are next in Premier League action on 19 March. Middlesbrough entertain Manchester United (12:00) before City play at home against Liverpool (16:30 GMT).