Swindon 1 Man City 4: Watch Cole Palmer's stunner as City ease into FA Cup fourth round without Pep amid Covid chaos
YOU can see why City were relaxed over the departure of Ferran Torres to Barcelona.
On a night when they were also without Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, here was the latest proof that Pep Guardiola is now polishing another stunning diamond.
Cole Palmer is only 19. This was only his fourth start for the club.
But he gave a tantalising glimpse of what is to come as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Foden from the academy to the very top of our game.
Palmer, who set up the opening goal in an easy win here in Wiltshire, probably did more with the ball than we have seen from £100million Jack Grealish all season – and he ended the night with a moment of genius with the fourth.
Bernardo SIlva, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan also scored for City who were without Guardiola as he was self isolating due to Covid-19.
Jesus also missed a penalty while Harry McKirdy gave the home fans something to celebrate with a good finish.
City were not at their most sparkling, Palmer was, at times, unplayable.
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The 19-year-old will be used sparingly over this season. You only have to look at the treatment of Foden which at times, infuriated the player but benefited him.
But with patience – and he is certainly at the right club – the England under-21 international, who played on the right of a front three, appears to have the natural ability and composure to make one hell of a name for himself.
Losing 4-1 is no disgrace for Swindon. Not when you consider Leeds had seven put past them and Leipzig, Wycombe and Leicester conceded six to the best team in English football.
In fairness to Swindon, they do try to play football the right way yet in a game like this, it played into City’s hands as they were not even given a physical battle.
Guardiola was one of 21 people at City isolating, including seven players yet it was still a strong-looking side against a team who are fifth in League Two.
This game was a welcome financial boost for Swindon, who nearly went out of business last year but will make about £300,000 profit from this tie.
Former academy coach Rodolfo Borrell was on the touchline for Guardiola who was still orchestrating proceedings via telephone from home.
Cheered on by a lively crowd at a packed County Ground, Swindon started brightly with in-form Harry McKirdy looking full of energy.
Maybe one reason the home supporters were so noisy is that they had been hitting the beers in the concourses before the game.
Because during the first half, a steward was walking up each row in the main stand shouting ‘there’s no alcohol left’ in case anyone was thinking about sneaking away from their seats before the half-time whistle.
City spent the first 15 minutes giving their opponents a few gentle tests and typically, went for the jugular in a flash of pure quality.
Palmer turned left wing-back Ellis Landolo inside out and then delivered a truly terrific pass from the right for Bernardo Silva to smash the ball into the roof of the net from two yards. He really could not miss.
In contrast, Silva wasted a really good chance you would normally expect him to stick away but instead, smashed a shot which flew over the stand and into the street behind.
Swindon were then given a harsh introduction into life against the very best when they lost possession at the back.
Louis Reed failed to control a pass by keeper Ward and Jesus delivered a one-two with Kevin de Bruyne and then took a quick touch before burying his shot from close range
City moved further ahead just before the hour when Ilkay Gundogan curled a free around the Swindon wall
The biggest roar of the night came when Ward saved an admittedly poor free-kick from Jesus after Silva was fouled by Jordan Lyden
McKirdy brought the house down with a confident finish after sub Jonny Williams played the ball out wide.
Yet the night belonged to Palmer, a boyhood City fan who joined the at under-8s level.
And he would have dreamed of moments like the 82nd minute.
He certainly left the best until last with a stunning left-footed finish which arrowed into the top corner.
It was an unstoppable finish from a player we have certainly not heard the last of.
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