De Bruyne back for Man City as holders power into FA Cup fourth round

AFP , Sunday 7 Jan 2024

Kevin De Bruyne made his long-awaited return for Manchester City as the FA Cup holders thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 in the third round on Sunday.

Manchester City s head coach Pep Guardiola, right, gives instructions to Manchester City s Kevin De Bruyne during the English FA Cup third round soccer match between Manchester City and Huddersfield Town, at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)


Belgium midfielder De Bruyne had been sidelined since tearing his hamstring during City's Premier League opener against Burnley in August.

He finally got back in action as a 57th minute substitute in City's emphatic victory over the Championship strugglers at the Etihad Stadium.

Chants of 'Oh Kevin De Bruyne' echoed around the stands when the 32-year-old replaced Julian Alvarez.

Pep Guardiola's side were leading by goals from Phil Foden and Alvarez when De Bruyne was introduced.

De Bruyne's arrival kept the momentum going as City netted three more times through Ben Jackson's own goal, another Foden effort and a Jeremy Doku strike on his return from injury as a second half substitute.

Fittingly, Doku's goal was set up by a deft lofted pass from De Bruyne.

City have stayed afloat without De Bruyne, but his world-class quality in midfield will be a key factor in their bid to retain the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

"We are incredibly delighted to have him back because Kevin helps to win games. It is so important to have him back after a long injury," Guardiola said.

"He will help us with his talent but I don't want to put all the pressure on Kevin's shoulders because it is not fair.

"Of course he has a special ability and quality to do something that is difficult to find. Kevin is exceptional. He is unique."

After winning five major trophies in 2023, City have their sights set on more silverware in the new year and their first step on the road back to Wembley could not have been any easier.

City famously thrashed Huddersfield 10-1 in 1987 in a match featuring three hat-tricks.

While this wasn't quite that brutal on Huddersfield, there was never any doubt City would progress despite the absence of Rodri, due to his grandmother's death, and the injured Erling Haaland.

Foden broke Huddersfield's resistance in the 33rd minute, squeezing his shot in at the near post after Alvarez's effort was blocked.

Alvarez nabbed City's second goal four minutes later, the Argentine stretching to tap in Rico Lewis's pass from close-range.

De Bruyne had been on for just seconds when City scored their third as Oscar Bobb's shot went in via a wicked deflection off Jackson.

Foden struck again in the 65th minute with a clinical low strike from 20 yards.

Belgium winger Doku capped the demolition in the 74th minute, meeting De Bruyne's sublime pass with a first-time finish.

Premier League trio held

Premier League strugglers Luton were held 0-0 by third tier Bolton at Kenilworth Road.

In their first top-flight campaign since 1992, Luton's primary goal is survival and a draining replay was the last thing Hatters boss Rob Edwards needed.

Nottingham Forest were also given a scare by League One opponents as Nuno Espirito Santo's men recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Blackpool.

Blackpool beat Forest in the third round last year when the Seasiders were in the Championship and almost repeated the trick at the City Ground.

Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel and Albie Morgan put Blackpool two up by the 27th minute, but Nicolas Dominguez got one back in the 39th minute and Morgan Gibbs-White equalised in the 56th minute.

West Ham were held to a 1-1 draw against second tier Bristol City at the London Stadium.

Jarrod Bowen struck for West Ham in the fifth minute but Tommy Conway's 61st minute equaliser sent 9,000 travelling City fans wild.

Later on Sunday, Arsenal and Liverpool take a break from their Premier League title battle to clash in the tie of the round at the Emirates Stadium.

After the title rivals played out a 1-1 draw in the Premier League at Anfield in December, they meet again with the chance to inflict a psychological blow.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: