Manchester City defeated Port Vale 4-1 to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup at the Etihad on Saturday.
Oleksandr Zinchenko scored his first goal in nearly a year to put City up early — the left-back’s shot from outside of the box taking a deflection off a sliding defender before beating Scott Brown in the Port Vale goal in the 20th minute.
The visitors got back on level terms a quarter-hour later through the outspoken Tom Pope, who beat Taylor Harwood-Bellis to a David Amoo cross from the right and headed home from the middle of the area.
Pope made headlines for his criticism of City and England centre-back John Stones over the summer, when he tweeted that he’d “score 40 a season” if he played against the former Everton man every week.
City survived a VAR review to restore their lead three minutes from the break with a sweeping move that ended with a Sergio Aguero tap-in from a tight angle at the far post after Phil Foden ran in behind the defence down the right.
Aguero did not celebrate in anticipation of a booth review of Foden’s positioning on the play, but the goal stood and City went into half-time back in control of the match.
Harwood-Bellis scored his first senior goal for City in the 58th minute following another VAR review. The centre-back’s heel was found to be inches onside before redirecting a weak Stones shot near the goal line.
“I didn’t quite know how to react to scoring as I’ve not been in a game with VAR before,” Harwood-Bellis said of his goal after the match.
“But a couple of Port Vale players said I could be onside, so I got my hopes up and, fortunately, it was given.
“I said to John I was trying to move out of the way and then when it wasn’t offside I said that I meant it!
“But, to be honest, I did try and move out of the way… but I’ll take it!”
Foden added a fourth in the 76th minute when he coolly converted at the near post from an Angelino cross after a wonderful cross-field pass found the left-back behind the defence on the left.
Vale manager John Askey was upbeat after the match, telling reporters that his team was “fantastic” in the loss.
“I was worried before the games that teams have come here and got annihilated,” he said. “When our goal went in you started to dream a little bit.”
Cit manager Pep Guardiola was pleased to see his team advance amid a busy festive period.
“We are in the next round after an incredible amount of games,” said Guardiola. “We played seriously. In the first half we struggled a bit, but the second half was better. I think in general the team did okay.
“Our game was there all the time. In the Premier League we are far away, we have to focus on taking second position. In the other comps we go game by game.”