Taxi for Carlos

Posted by Simon Curtis

This is what it's like to be City. There was really only one candidate to score a hat trick in the FA Cup quarterfinal with Barnsley. Only one candidate to be man of the match. Only one candidate to have to take the bus home to Wilmslow and then cycle the last leg back to the country pile.

Step forward Carlos Tevez, disqualified, pilloried, castigated and now bestowed with the match ball after an effortless three-goal display made mincemeat of the idea that maybe this would be a day where he might have been better off putting his slippered feet up and watching "Ben-Hur" on the Plasmatron instead.

- Tevez scores hat trick in City win

But that is not how they do things in Fuerte Apache. There they confront their demons, face up to life's tough lessons and get on with things. Tevez sometimes has the air of a man possessed, sometimes listless and disinterested. On other occasions, he seems intent on confrontation, as his like-minded manager will confirm. He takes it as it comes, and when it gets complicated, he pretends he has lost his dictionary.

Maybe we should all take a leaf out of his book and chill out a little. Certainly, the only moment he looked slightly aggrieved came when Stephen Foster clattered into him in the early minutes. City had already taken the lead and were beginning to stroll around like an aristocrat viewing his prize shrubs through a monocle when Tevez was launched into the air by the Barnsley man. Pained looks followed as the Argentine dusted himself down and felt his shins to make sure everything was just how he had left it.

In truth, City had already made a breakthrough by this early stage, and the consummate ease with which they went through the gears made Barnsley, newly dumped at the foot of the Championship after Saturday's results went against them, look like proverbial lambs to the slaughter. Having watched Wigan make unlikely lunchtime mincemeat of an Everton side that always give City a hard time, there was not a soul to be found inside the Etihad thinking this might be a cakewalk.

With the unlikely figure of David Flitcroft reminding us of times gone by -- brother Gary's blond bob featured in many City games in the early '90s, including the last FA Cup encounter between the two sides in 1993 -- and Kelvin Etuhu making a more recent link between the teams, there were ingredients in place for a classic cup story. That would have transpired, however, only if Barnsley had been able to get anywhere near the ball. Time and again in that first half of whirring legs and flashing 10-yard passes, the Barnsley defence looked like training dummies being successfully passed around. On one occasion, the ball was whipped in a triangle between David Silva, Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov and repeated its journey just for good measure. The slickness of pass, deftness of movement and ability to work in and through minute spaces was again apparent in a superb piece of play for the third goal.

Tevez, already the scorer of a confident first and the maker of a swift second, found himself on the end of a movement of ball for the third that involved a trajectory not unlike the journey the ball bearing takes in one of those strange mega-constructions that feeds, tips and slides until -- at the end of the delicate process -- a giant kettle starts boiling and a whistle goes off. Kolarov, playing strongly and with unaccustomed accuracy, dinked a sublime blind ball to Silva, whose touch and movement took him into a space the size of a rabbit hole. There he wriggled a pass through to Tevez, who -- similarly restricted -- dug the ball forward and slipped it around the toe ends of the nearest defender and past the stunned goalkeeper. This was table soccer on a full-sized pitch in front of 47,000 people. Awe-inspiring stuff.

City began the second period with a bout of sloppiness, featuring mistakes in possession from Joleon Lescott and Samir Nasri. I made a quick mental note that this was exactly why they both find themselves down the pecking order this season, but before the sentence had settled properly in my mind, we had the sight of Nasri skipping delicately down the wing and turning in a cross for Tevez to smack home for his hat trick.

There was more to come as the show began to wind down toward full time -- Silva toe-ending a fifth and James Milner attempting to uproot the goal frame, but the prodigious head of steam built up earlier had long since gone out. All that was left was the thought that City have yet to concede a goal in this season's FA Cup. The last team to win it in this way was Bury in 1902-03. The players on that side probably celebrated with a pale ale or two and then rode a penny farthing to get home, which is more or less where we began in the first place.

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