Pep Guardiola hailed his “special players” as Manchester City rewrote English football’s record books with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Swansea City that sent them into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were on target as Guardiola’s team won a 15th game in a row in all competitions, with Swansea pulling one back late on through debutant Morgan Whittaker.
This triumph means Manchester City have set a new record for successive domestic wins by an English top-flight club, surpassing the previous best of 14 achieved by the Preston team of 1891-92 and the 1987-88 Arsenal side.
“It shows how special these players are,” said Guardiola.
“And we think of the next one. I know we broke a record of all-time. To do what we have done so far is quite remarkable.
“The record will be broken for sure, because sports is like this, but it means a lot, to do what we have done in the winter time and Christmas time is quite remarkable.
“It is the toughest time, but what is important is the way we are still playing with our consistency.”
Having eased to their latest victory, Guardiola’s men remain in contention for a quadruple while Swansea, who are third in the Championship, are left to focus on their bid to join Manchester City in the Premier League next season.
This was an early taste of the size of the task they will face should they secure promotion in May – even if not every opponent will be as formidable as the current Premier League leaders.
Manchester City have not lost since November and never looked like getting beaten here, as they took charge from the outset and went ahead on the half hour when Walker’s cross missed everyone in a crowded penalty area and rolled into the net.
If the goal was a little soft, it was no more than the visitors deserved given their control.
A Swansea revival looked unlikely, and any slim home hopes were quickly extinguished in the second half.
First Sterling found time and space to roll a shot low into the bottom corner of the net, then Jesus turned and steered home from close range.
Swansea’s application was rewarded late on when Whittaker, who had only been on the pitch 12 minutes, finished smartly from Ryan Manning’s cross.
Guardiola’s side in the groove
The Manchester City juggernaut rolls on.
During their record-breaking run of victories, the men from Etihad Stadium have scored 40 goals and conceded just five.
Yet Guardiola’s team had made hard work of overcoming League Two Cheltenham Town in the previous round of the cup, and the Spaniard had warned before this tie that a stern examination awaited in south Wales.
He had not forgotten 2018-19, when Graham Potter’s Swansea gave Manchester City a significant scare on this ground in the FA Cup quarter-finals, going 2-0 up only to lose a thrilling contest 3-2.
Guardiola acknowledged that Sergio Aguero’s late winner that day ought to have been disallowed – while his side were also awarded a dubious penalty – but there was nothing contentious about this success.
Manchester City went on to lift the FA Cup – as part of a domestic treble – after their last victory in Swansea, and are now just three wins away from claiming the trophy once more.
They are already through to the Carabao Cup final – they face Tottenham in April – and are five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand.
They also remain in the Champions League, with Borussia Monchengladbach to come in the last 16, so the prospect of an unprecedented quadruple lives on.
Manchester City will, though, need to overcome sterner tests than this if they are to achieve the extraordinary.
Swansea could not keep the ball as they like to and therefore found themselves defending for long spells, with Jesus seeing a shot parried and sending another wide early on.
Aymeric Laporte headed wide and Ferran Torres’ shot from a tight angle was well saved by Freddie Woodman.
Swansea were creaking, but would not have expected to be undone when Jesus and Torres failed to connect with Walker’s low cross from the right.
But as he waited for a touch, Woodman was left wrongfooted as the ball evaded everyone and went in at the far post.
Swansea tried to respond, with Jay Fulton and Marc Guehi heading wide either side of a sweet move which ended with Eric Garcia blocking Jamal Lowe’s shot.
Any chance of a revival disappeared soon after the restart as Swansea were opened up and Rodrigo found Sterling on the left flank.
The England forward had an age in which to pick his spot and made no mistake, stroking the ball beyond the helpless Woodman to claim a 12th goal of the season.
Three minutes later came the third goal, as Bernardo Silva found Jesus in the penalty area and he turned before guiding home from point-blank range.
Whittaker, a January signing from Derby County, was one of a raft of second-half Swansea substitutes.
The 20-year-old scored only his second goal in senior football with practically his first touch in a Swansea shirt, as he controlled Manning’s centre and rolled a shot into the bottom corner.
Swansea head coach Steve Cooper:
“In the first half the tone of the was set fairly quickly, but we did have some half-decent moments.
“But we were naive with how we started the second half, particularly the goals we gave away, and a really tough challenge became massively tough after that and the game saw itself out.
“We certainly didn’t hide. The rhythm of the game stayed the same, but we kept going. We didn’t concede another goal and we scored a goal. We’ve got to play against and see one of the best teams in the world live.
“We will always learn from what we do, in the tough moments as well as the highs, and we’ll look to take it into our game going forward.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola:
“Very pleased for the way the team performed, all of them. We were comfortable with the ball but every time they [Swansea] broke they pressed – they’re a strong team.
“We take the game seriously and control the strong points and created lots of chances. In general we played well.”