Manchester City produced a polished performance to outclass Birmingham and reach the FA Cup fourth round.
The hosts were without striker Sergio Aguero, who did not even make the squad despite pre-match promises he would start, but two early goals by Bernardo Silva put them in full control and Phil Foden’s strike put the tie beyond doubt before half-time.
Pep Guardiola’s side, who beat Manchester United on Wednesday to reach the Carabao Cup final, took things easier in the second half but still dominated possession and gave Bernardo enough chances to complete his hat-trick.
Birmingham were on the back foot from the start, and fell behind when they could only clear Joao Cancelo’s clipped pass into the path of Bernardo, who expertly steered the bouncing ball into the top corner with a fierce first-time shot.
Another superb passing move soon after gave Bernardo his second goal, this time with a tap-in from Kevin de Bruyne’s pull-back.
The Belgian was in majestic form and opened up the Birmingham defence time and time again before Riyad Mahrez fed Foden to make it 3-0 from the edge of the area.
That advantage was always going to be enough to see off a Birmingham side who are 18th in the Championship and had lost five of their previous six league games, failing to score in the past three.
Birmingham took until the 34th minute to test Zack Steffen through George Friend’s deflected shot, but almost got a late consolation when substitute Jeremie Bela blasted just over from the edge of the area.
What next? Manchester City back at Etihad Stadium
Manchester City go into the draw for fourth and fifth rounds, taking place together on Monday, and will be back at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to host Brighton (18:00 GMT), the first of three successive home Premier League games.
Birmingham are not in action again until Saturday, when they travel to face Middlesbrough, their manager Aitor Karanka’s former club (12:30).
- 27CanceloSubstituted forHarwood-Bellisat 45′minutes
- 2WalkerBooked at 74mins
- 3Rúben DiasSubstituted forStonesat 45′minutes
- 16RodriSubstituted forFernandinhoat 67′minutes
- 17De BruyneSubstituted forNmechaat 45′minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 9Gabriel JesusSubstituted forDelapat 75′minutes
- 19San José
- 15Clarke-SalterBooked at 88mins
- 34SunjicBooked at 44minsSubstituted forBelaat 67′minutes
- 23ToralSubstituted forClaytonat 45′minutes
- 14LekoSubstituted forJutkiewiczat 68′minutes
- 9HoganSubstituted forRobertsat 45′minutes
Match ends, Manchester City 3, Birmingham City 0.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 3, Birmingham City 0.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by George Friend.
Jake Clarke-Salter (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Felix Nmecha (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jake Clarke-Salter (Birmingham City).
Attempt missed. Iván Sánchez (Birmingham City) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Maxime Colin.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Offside, Birmingham City. Adam Clayton tries a through ball, but Jérémie Bela is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Jérémie Bela (Birmingham City) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Maxime Colin.
Attempt missed. Liam Delap (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.
Attempt missed. Jérémie Bela (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by George Friend.
Attempt blocked. Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Iván Sánchez.
Attempt missed. Jake Clarke-Salter (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Iván Sánchez with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Benjamin Mendy.
Substitution, Manchester City. Liam Delap replaces Gabriel Jesus.
Kyle Walker (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Kyle Walker (Manchester City).
George Friend (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Kyle Walker (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.