FA Cup holders, Manchester City, maintained the defense of their crown as they defeated Championship outfit, Fulham 4-0 in the Fourth Round of the competition.
Goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and a brace from Gabriel Jesus rounded off a routine cup win at the Etihad Stadium, maintaining Pep Guardiola's 100% home record in the famous competition.
For the visitors it was an afternoon to forget as, as well as conceding four goals they were also left to play over 80 minutes with 10 men, after captain Tim Ream was dismissed for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Story of the game:
It didn't take long for the FA Cup holders to get going as they had the lead and a man advantage inside ten minutes.
Gabriel Jesus broke through, one-on-one on Marek Rodak's goal and before he could get away a shot he was dragged down by Fulham skipper, Ream giving Kevin Friend no option but to point to the spot and send off the American defender.
After much dispute about the Blues' penalty taking in the week, Gundogan stepped up and converted the spot kick to give his side the lead.
As to be expected City didn't stop their and they could have had a second just minutes later. Riyad Mahrez superbly dummied past two Fulham defenders and unleashed a low strike on the edge of the box which was well saved by Rodak down to his right.
City came close again moments later as a counter attack led by Mahrez found Phil Foden on the left. However, the City youngster couldn't find the target as his effort from 12 yards flew just wide of the post.
If the first 15 minutes were anything to go by this was going to be a long afternoon for the visitors as they tried their best to weather the City storm, one thing the couldn't weather however was a piece of Bernardo brilliance.
The Portuguese international found space on the edge of the box, and beat his man not once but twice, before hitting a pin point, curling effort into the bottom corner to double City's lead.
The home side's dominance continued, however a third first half goal evaded them as they went into the break with their two goal advantage.
Into the second half and it was more of the same from the hosts, and they could have and probably should have extended their lead within a minute of the restart.
A fast moving passage of play found an unmarked Mahrez 10 yards from goal, however the Algerian fluffed his chance, smashing an effort well over the Fulham bar.
If the away side already thought they had their work cut out, things got even tougher as Raheem Sterling replaced Mahrez.
The Englishman is without a goal in five games but nearly broke his duck minutes after his introduction as he hit an effort from the right hand side of the box crashing against Rodak's crossbar.
In spite of the home side's dominance, one thing the Cottagers can be credited for is their confidence, as they continued to play out from the back in their, typical possession style play, almost giving Guardiola's side a taste of their on medicine.
This confidence however would soon be something they'd live to regret as their willingness to play out from the back cost them twice in a matter of minutes.
A first of two errors in the Fulham box allowed Joao Cancelo to cross for Jesus, who made no mistake from close range, heading home for his 15th goal of the season.
Moments later the Brazilian had a 16th after another defensive error allowed Foden to get a shot away from 10 yards which was well saved from Rodak. However, the away side's shot stopper could not keep out the second attempt as Jesus headed into an empty net, to put his side four ahead and into the hat for the next round of the competition.
Takeaways from the game:
City continue Cup defence
The win means the Blues are now eight games unbeaten in the competition as Guardiola's side put themselves a in the hat for the Fifth Round of the competition. The win puts the holders well on their to defending their FA Cup crown with only three more victories needed to book themselves a place in the final at Wembley in May.
Fulham beaten but not disgraced
Despite the heavy defeat, Scott Parker's side can come away with the Etihad with some pride after playing with almost no fear, confidently moving the ball out from the back. This style of play may have cost them against the Premier League champions but if they continue their fluent style of play into the league, it will be no surprise to see the Cottagers challenging for promotion come the end of the campaign.