City's season gets more complicated with unwanted replay

LONDON • Pep Guardiola called the FA Cup "complicated" in midweek. And, after a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town on Saturday, the world's most venerated cup competition did not get any easier for him, days before the resumption of the Champions League.

Huddersfield, third in the Championship, have other things on their mind too, but a place in the draw for the sixth round was the least they deserved for a display of spirit and courage.

A crowd of 24,129, a John Smith's Stadium record for football, roared Huddersfield on and gave them a standing ovation at the end.

With a little more composure in front of goal, the 1922 Cup winners might have reached the sixth round for the first time in 46 years.

"We had some chances, but they were the better team, no surprise," said David Wagner, the Huddersfield manager. "I was very proud that my side stuck to their identity. We were aggressive and brave enough to make it uncomfortable for them."

The one sour note on a pulsating afternoon was a plastic bottle hurled on the pitch and past the City bench, which might land the home club in trouble.

City made eight changes to Town's seven but there was precious little to choose between two semi-reserve sides for much of the game.

Guardiola insisted Vincent Kompany had not suffered a serious injury setback after the captain missed the game. The Belgian centre-back, who has played just six times this season because of a series of injury problems, had been expected to figure against the second-tier side but was not on the team sheet.

The City manager, however, played down concerns about Kompany's fitness, although it is unclear whether he will figure in tomorrow's Champions League game at home to Monaco.

"Two days ago, he felt something in his leg. It is not a big, big issue," said Guardiola, who stressed he was content to face Huddersfield again in a last-16 replay.

"I knew the game that we had to play," the Spaniard said. "In the first half we had our chances, the (Huddersfield) goalkeeper was brilliant. In the second half maybe we played a bit better but we didn't create many chances.

"So many teams in the Premier League are out (of the FA Cup) and we have another chance (Feb 28) at home, we will try to qualify."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'City's season gets more complicated with unwanted replay'. Print Edition | Subscribe