Manchester City remained in the hunt for a record trophy quadruple after a hat trick from teenager Kelechi Iheanacho helped them demolish Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Fringe players such as Iheanacho got their chance in fourth-round games throughout the day, which also saw wins for cup holder Arsenal and Tottenham, while Liverpool was held by West Ham to 0-0 in the late kickoff.
But City’s convincing victory showed the real strength in depth of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad, with 19-year-old Iheanacho taking over the goalscoring duties from Sergio Aguero, who watched from the bench.
The bookmakers already make City the favourite to win the English Premier League, where it lies second behind surprise leader Leicester City, and also to beat Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Feb. 28.
That leaves the Champions League, where City has a place in the last 16, and the FA Cup.
Iheanacho opened the scoring, and the 19-year-old striker converted a penalty 20 minutes later after Raheem Sterling was brought down in the area. Iheanacho struck again in the second half after a 30-yard (meter) run, and Sterling added City’s fourth just two minutes after that.
Asked about Iheanacho’s performance, Pellegrini said: “That’s why we didn’t replace (Stevan) Jovetic and Edin Dzeko – because I see him working every day and I know how important he can be.”
The City coach also revealed he sent orders from the touchline for Iheanacho to take City’s spot kick.
“It’s unbelievable the way he takes penalties and I’ve seen him do it every day,” Pellegrini said. “That’s why he was the right option.”
Down in north London, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez scored one goal and made the other in a 2-1 home victory over second-tier side Burnley.
Sanchez set up defender Calum Chambers to give Arsenal the lead, only for Sam Vokes to head an equalizer for Burnley on the half-hour mark.
Sanchez struck the winner after the break, turning home Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross from close range.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was quick to play down his side’s chances of a third consecutive FA Cup trophy.
“We are still in three competitions and we will try every time to get a team out to pass the round,” he told the club website.
Nacer Chadli scored twice as Tottenham cruised to a 4-1 victory in the early kickoff at Colchester United, after a clash of heads left one of the home side’s defenders in hospital.
Colchester said Alex Wynter suffered a deep cut in his mouth and was slightly disorientated, but “otherwise doing OK” after colliding with teammate Tom Eastman in the opening minutes.
Colchester, which is at the bottom of England’s third tier, then managed to keep the Premier League title contender at bay until midway through the second half – when Eric Dier scored with a deflected shot.
Chadli added his second with a header, but Colchester pulled a goal back when Gavin Massey’s shot rebounded off the post and defender Ben Davies turned the ball into his own net. Tom Carroll scored Spurs’ fourth.
“The job’s done, we’re in the next round,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
The big upset of the day looked to be coming from the south coast, where fourth-tier Portsmouth was leading top-flight Bournemouth 1-0 until Josh King’s equalizer in the 71st minute. Marc Pugh then scored a second for the Premier League side to earn a 2-1 victory.
Elsewhere, West Bromwich Albion was held by third-tier Peterborough to 2-2, while Watford left it late to beat Nottingham Forest 1-0. Watford’s top scorer, Odion Ighalo, came off the bench to get the only goal in the 89th minute. A solo effort by Wilfried Zaha gave Crystal Palace a 1-0 win over Stoke in an all-Premier League game.Report Typo/Error