Getting back the winning feeling was important, says Fernandinho

Manchester City v Fulham – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Captain Fernandinho felt it was important Manchester City got back in the winning groove against Fulham on Saturday.

The Premier League leaders were held to a draw in their previous outing at Southampton a fortnight ago with momentum then further stalled by the competition’s winter break.

They put that behind them as they clicked back into gear by sweeping aside Championship pacesetters Fulham 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium to reach the FA Cup fifth round.

Riyad Mahrez scored twice as City came from behind to beat Fulham

Riyad Mahrez scored twice as City came from behind to beat Fulham (Martin Rickett/PA)

The victory was not entirely straightforward, with the enterprising Cottagers taking a surprise fourth-minute lead, but Pep Guardiola’s men ultimately won comfortably.

“This is the best way to come back after a week off,” said Fernandinho. “Some players got the opportunity to spend some time with our families in different countries, but it is important to come back and get (back) on track, winning.

“For a team like us it is important to win every game and, with the quality players, the manager and the philosophy we have got, show good football as well.

“It is important to keep going, this keeps you motivated to show your quality every three days. It is important now to think about Brentford (on Tuesday) and prepare for the game so well, to try to be as much as possible on top of the league.”

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City were stunned when Fulham, scorers of 74 goals in 28 games in the Championship, took a fourth-minute lead through Fabio Carvalho.

The 19-year-old showed no ill-effects from the collapse of a deadline-day move to Liverpool as he confidently swept in a cross from the equally impressive Harry Wilson.

Yet City’s response was swift and decisive. Ilkay Gundogan levelled two minutes later from a Riyad Mahrez pass and John Stones headed them in front soon after.

The hosts stepped up the tempo to put the result beyond doubt with two strikes, the first from the penalty spot, from Mahrez early in the second half.

It made for a happy return to club action for Mahrez after his frustrations at the Africa Cup of Nations, where he missed a crucial penalty in a defeat against Ivory Coast that sent holders Algeria out prematurely.

Fernandinho said: “He doesn’t need to prove anything for anyone in the squad. We know his qualities, we know what he is capable of. I am so glad he is back, fit and he he can help us.”

Despite the final scoreline, Fulham gave a good account of themselves and should remain high in confidence as their attention returns to their promotion challenge.

Marco Silva (right) turned his attention back to the Championship after the loss

Marco Silva (right) turned his attention back to the Championship after the loss (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manager Marco Silva said: “From now on I don’t want to talk any more about the Premier League. We are in the Championship.

“Our players are working hard and doing the right things but now it is a moment to regroup.

“The FA Cup has finished for us, now it is for us to go again for our bigger desire, to be successful at the end of the season.”

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