LONDON – Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham eased into the fifth round of the F.A. Cup on Saturday, as the English Premier League title contenders showed their strength in depth.
Though many fringe players got a rare chance to start, none made more of the opportunity than teenager Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored a hat trick as City swept past Aston Villa 4-0.
Iheanacho opened the scoring, and the 19-year-old striker converted a penalty 20 minutes later after Raheem Sterling was brought down in the area. Iheanacho struck again in the second half after a 30-meter run, and Sterling added City’s fourth just two minutes after that.
Victory over the team lying at the bottom of the Premier League keeps City in the hunt for an unprecedented trophy quadruple.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side is second in the league standings, has a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and will take on Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Feb. 28.
Asked about Iheanacho’s performance, Pellegrini said: “That’s why we didn’t replace (Stevan) Jovetic and Edin Dzeko — because I see him working every day and I know how important he can be.”
The City coach also revealed he sent orders from the touchline for Iheanacho to take City’s spot kick.
“It’s unbelievable the way he takes penalties and I’ve seen him do it every day,” Pellegrini said. “That’s why he was the right option.”
Down in north London, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez scored one goal and made the other in the cup holders’ 2-1 home victory over second-tier side Burnley.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was quick to play down his side’s chances of a third consecutive F.A. Cup trophy.
“We are still in three competitions and we will try every time to get a team out to pass the round,” he told the club website.
Nacer Chadli scored twice as Tottenham cruised to a 4-1 victory in the early kickoff at Colchester United, after a clash of heads left one of the home side’s defenders in hospital.