Manchester City endured some anxious moments on Saturday but escaped from fourth-tier Newport County with their FA Cup hopes intact as Phil Foden scored twice in an ultimately comfortable 4-1 victory.
Newport, 82 rungs below Manchester City on the English football ladder, rattled Pep Guardiola’s aristocrats in the first half of the fifth-round match.
Tyreeq Bakinson almost gave them the lead at a rocking Rodney Parade.
But Manchester City’s class showed in the second half.
Once Leroy Sane’s powerful shot from a tight angle put them in front after 51 minutes, the chances of a seismic Cup shock faded away.
Foden’s 75th minute shot crept in at the near post to subdue the home fans.
But when Padraig Amond maintained his run of scoring in every round with an 88th minute lob it seemed possible Newport’s fairytale might have a late twist.
However, a second goal for youngster Foden arrived 71 seconds later before Riyad Mahrez rubbed salt into Newport’s wounds with virtually the last kick of the game.
It all helped Manchester City to claim a 12th win in 13 matches in all competitions.
“It was a really tough game and it was lucky that Phil got the third goal,” Guardiola, whose side are still chasing silverware on four fronts, said.
“Newport used their strengths and we are not used to playing against that every week. That’s why the Cup is so special.”
In the day’s other ties, Brighton and Hove Albion shrugged off their poor English Premier League form to beat Frank Lampard’s Derby County 2-1.
First half goals by Anthony Knockaert and Juergen Locadia helped to put them in front.
Former Chelsea and England left back Ashley Cole grabbed Derby’s consolation — his first FA Cup goal.
Millwall booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over an AFC Wimbledon side who had outclassed top-flight West Ham United in the previous round.
Three more ties take place on Sunday, with top-flight Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace both in action.
On Monday, Chelsea will host Manchester United in a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final won by Chelsea.
Newport’s historic Rodney Parade stadium was packed to the rafters long before kick-off.
The home fans seemed to have gathered in hope of witnessing what manager Michael Flynn claimed would be the greatest FA Cup shock of all time.
At times during the first half Guardiola’s Manchester City slickers, who put six goals past Chelsea last week, appeared decidedly uncomfortable under a barrage of long throw-ins.
From one such delivery Newport seemed certain to take the lead when the ball bounced up invitingly for Bakinson.
He had all the goal to aim for with a close-range header, but Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson appeared from nowhere to make a stunning save.
Manchester City dominated possession with Sane grazing the bar and Mahrez going close but Newport were always a threat and Joss Labadie skewed a half chance wide from another long throw.
Six minutes after the break Manchester City went ahead when Sane’s fierce shot smashed Joe Day straight in the face on its way into the net.
The goalkeeper got a bloody nose for his trouble.
Day, who sprinted off the pitch to attend the birth of his twins following Newport’s fourth-round win over second-tier Middlesbrough, was at fault as Foden made it 2-0.
The 30-year-old Amond took advantage of a lapse to dink Newport’s reply, briefly restoring the decibel-level in the stadium.
But Foden’s sweet left-foot strike and Mahrez’s cool finish spared Manchester City any late anxiety.
“I am very proud to have scored in every round but disappointed we didn’t get the grand slam finish we were hoping for,” Irish striker Amond said.(Reuters/NAN)