Manchester City 6 (Diaz 9, Foden 29, Nmecha 45, 67 & 78, Duhaney 52)
Stoke City 0
-Kevin Russell’s side with it all to do at the bet365 Stadium in the second leg.
- Diaz, Foden, Nmecha (3) and Duhaney all on target as Manchester City record 6-0 lead at the Etihad Campus.
- Potters rue lady luck as woodwork twice denied them an equaliser before hosts romped to victory.
MANCHESTER CITY proved to be too hot to handle at the Etihad Campus on Friday evening as their U18 side took a giant stride towards the showpiece FA Youth Cup Final.
Whilst the Potters have the second leg to try and salvage some consolation from, it will undoubtedly be the Citizens progressing after chalking up an unassailable six goal advantage courtesy of an emphatic performance on home soil.
The U18 Premier League North Champions have left most sides in their wake this season, including Kevin Russell’s side in both league meetings, and it was always going to be a monumental challenge for the Potters to topple them over two legs.
From the offset it was the home side who looked the more dominant and it took just nine minutes for the lively Brahim Diaz to break the deadlock with a sublime piece of individual skill to free himself of his marker and then slip the ball past Hungarian stopper Mate Deczki.
To Stoke’s credit though, and despite the hosts looking capable of running away with the match at such an early stage, they did offer some resistance and could count themselves hugely unfortunate not to have capitalised on their brightest period of the 90 minutes.
The competition’s leading scorer with seven, Tyrese Campbell, who arrived at the bet365 Stadium from Manchester City in the summer, rattled the post with a thumping effort from a tight angle after manoeuvring enough space to forge a sight at goal.
Then moments later his strike partner Jordan Greenidge went equally as close, as his powerful drive from 18-yards beat the highly-rated ‘keeper Aro Muric but agonisingly bounced back off the crossbar, much to the relief of the rattled hosts.
However, totally against the run of play Lee Carsley’s young guns doubled their advantage thanks to another moment of individual brilliance from frontman Phil Foden, who ghosted past two Stoke defenders and flicked the ball beyond the outstretched leg of Deczki.
That setback clearly affected the Potters, who had looked by far the more likelier of the two sides to grab what would have been a potentially game-changing second goal of the evening.
With the half-time interval fast approaching and Kevin Russell eager to get his players inside the dressing room to regroup, disaster struck as the rampant Citizens, took their tally for the evening to three courtesy of Lukas Nmecha.
That effort swung the tie decisively in the home side’s favour and with no option but to try and press for a goal of their own, the visitors were always going to be vulnerable on the break - something that Demeaco Duhaney capitalised on just seven minutes after the restart.
At 4-0, and with almost 40 minutes of the encounter remaining, Stoke needed to tighten up at the back and give themselves even the smallest possibility of turning the Semi-Final around in the second leg, but, truth be told, the hosts were simply too good.
There was nothing nobody could do about the fifth goal from Nmecha as, similarly to the first two goals of the evening, he displayed pace and trickery to close in on Deczki and then deftly executed the most accurate of finishes to beat the Stoke number one.
At the other end a rare foray forward saw Campbell bring out the best of defender Ed Francis whilst full-back Tom Edwards let rip a thunderous half volley that deflected inches over the crossbar via the leg of Joe Coveney.
With little over 10 minutes remaining the impressive Nmecha capped off a wonderful evening for both himself and his teammates, as he cut inside from the right and curled home the goal of the evening with his left peg to effectively put the Semi-Final to bed at the half-way point.
Still, with the chance to showcase their talents live on ITV4 back in North Staffordshire, there will still be plenty of incentives for the Potters to make a fist of the second leg on Monday, April 3.
Stoke City: Deczki; Edwards, Souttar, Da Silva, McJannet; Twyford, Dunwoody (c), Sorensen, Szereto; Greenidge, Campbell. Subs: Read, Allen, Balde, Cherdieu, Da Silva.