London: Manchester City put a smile back on Pep Guardiola's face as they swaggered into the FA Cup fourth round with a 5-0 demolition of West Ham on Friday.
Guardiola showed signs of feeling the strain of City's inconsistent season when he snapped at reporters during a series of tetchy interviews following Monday's win against Burnley.
The Spaniard was also forced to backtrack this week after appearing to suggest he wouldn't be in management much longer and seeming to admit City weren't as big a club as rivals Manchester United.
But the City manager's image issues looked a lot less problematic after his team destroyed West Ham with a three-goal blitz in the space of 10 minutes at the London Stadium.
Yaya Toure's penalty opened the floodgates before Havard Nordtveit's own goal and a David Silva strike effectively finished the third round tie before half-time.
City, who last won the FA Cup in 2011, added two more after the interval through Sergio Aguero and John Stones to ensure Guardiola enjoyed a memorable first taste of the famous old competition.
"We were able to keep the ball more than the last games. We created more chances," Guardiola said.
"After the second and third goal it was easy in the second half.
"It's important to win away but it's not easy. We are the good guys. We run a lot and fight."
Guardiola won the domestic cup in his first seasons in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich and often selected strong teams in the process.
He treated the FA Cup no differently and sent out a star-studded line-up featuring Aguero after he started on the bench against Burnley.
Guardiola's side quickly showed they meant business when Silva's stinging shot was blocked by West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.
City were dominating possession and a flowing move started by Toure deep inside his own half ended with Silva setting up Raheem Sterling for a shot that was blocked by Winston Reid at the last moment.
Aguero brought a fine save from Adrian from the resulting corner and City's pressure was rewarded in the 33rd minute.
Pablo Zabaleta, usually a right-back, was deployed in City's midfield and the Argentine took advantage of a rare chance to get forward when he surged onto Silva's reverse pass and went to ground after the slightest contact from Angelo Ogbonna.
West Ham complained Zabaleta had dived, but Toure ignored the fuss as the Ivory Coast midfielder emphatically dispatched the spot-kick.
At times this season, City have had an alarming habit of switching off at the back and Michail Antonio nearly took advantage of another lapse in concentration when he raced clear, only to see Willy Caballero palm his shot to Sofiane Feghouli, who somehow fired wide of the open goal.
That proved West Ham's last chance of making City sweat as Guardiola's side stepped on the gas to kill off the tie.
In the 42nd minute, City doubled their lead when Toure was allowed time and space for a cross that was turned into his own net by Nordtveit under pressure from Sterling.
Just 60 seconds later, the visitors punished more slack West Ham defending to deliver the knockout blow as Silva was left all alone to control Sterling's cross and take a clever touch to deceive Adrian before slotting into the empty net.
City weren't finished yet and Aguero was on the scoresheet five minutes after half-time when the Argentina star turned in Toure's shot to take him to third on his club's all-time scoring list and send West Ham fans streaming to the exits in droves.
With City in complete control there was an air of an exhibition match about the closing stages, but there was still time for Stones to score his first goal for the club with an 84th minute header from Nolito's corner.
Published Date: Jan 07, 2017 11:34 AM | Updated Date: Jan 07, 2017 11:34 AM