Man City 6-1 Wycombe: Holders survive early scare to keep quest for fifth-straight Carabao Cup on track

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Brandon Hanlan’s effort put the League One side into a shock lead at the Etihad but the high-class quartet of Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez were all among the goals as the holders hit back in style to reach the fourth round.

Cole Palmer’s first senior goal but the final flourish on what was eventually a comfortable night’s work for the Premier League champions.

Pep Guardiola had promised to give youngsters their chance as injuries hit ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea, but though he was true to his word there was a clear imbalance in the side he fielded to begin the pursuit of a fifth straight League Cup.

Five teenagers – Conrad Egan-Riley, Finley Burns, Luke Mbete, Josh Wilson-Ebrand and Romeo Lavia – started, but all in defensive roles, while captain De Bruyne led a powerful attacking unit also comprising Foden, Mahrez, Torres, and Raheem Sterling.

The early signs were promising but there was plenty of rust too – Sterling, Foden and Torres were all guilty of taking too long when finding space in the box.

At the other end, Wycombe’s veteran powerhouse Adebayo Akinfenwa looked ready to feast on City’s young back four – none of them born when the 39-year-old was collecting his first honours in Lithuanian football.

The threat from set-pieces was obvious, and Wycombe took the lead when City failed to deal with a 22nd-minute corner.

American goalkeeper Zack Steffen – fit to start after recovering from Covid-19 – could only punch the ball as far as Sulley Kaikai, whose shot was deflected, spinning into the path of Ryan Tafazolli who squared it for Hanlan to side-foot home.

City were level seven minutes later. It started with superb work from Foden in midfield, side-stepping two before hitting a defence-splitting pass to De Bruyne on the left, with the Belgian calmly passing the ball into the far corner of the net.

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