If the pressure of facing a possible jail sentence for driving while disqualified was weighing on Carlos Tevez, it did not show. Three goals and two assists suggest a man at ease with himself, which is more than can be said for the defenders who tried to block his path.
His manager, Roberto Mancini, had made a late decision to play the striker, although this had nothing to do with his arrest.
"I only read about it in the newspapers," Mancini said. "It is not our problem, it is his problem but, if it has that effect, I hope the police will stop him again next Friday."
These clubs were one game away from a Wembley semi-final, but as a contest it was like trying to stage a race between a Porsche and a Trabant on the grounds both had been made in Germany. It was, however, a better result for Barnsley than their previous trip to Eastlands, when they lost 7-1 in the League Cup to a side managed by Kevin Keegan, who was working as a summariser here last night.
As a boy Keegan had once tried to run from Doncaster to Manchester but collapsed near Barnsley. Their football team did not come nearly so close. Before kick-off other results had sent the Tykes to the bottom of the Championship and this was not an evening to inspire them before facing Brighton on Tuesday night.
"If they are the second-best team in the country, I wouldn't like to face Manchester United," said the Barnsley manager, David Flitcroft, who had compared Mancini's team to Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. "Their ruthlessness was incredible. It is what champions are about. They wanted to batter us into a pulp by half-time and then drill us into the floor in the second half."
Like the first FA Cup quarter-final, the second saw one side 3-0 up by the interval, although unlike the jaw-dropping events at Everton, the pattern had been entirely predictable. Realistically, Manchester City were through to the semi-finals the moment Tevez, having pumped his way down the right flank, picked out Aleksandar Kolarov to put City two up.
There was more than an hour remaining and for Luke Steele in the Barnsley goal and the rest of his defence, time would have dripped like a water clock. "A slow death," is how Flitcroft described the view from the dugout.
Flitcroft is an inventive manager who has taken his team to Spain to prepare for League games and had used Manchester United's training ground at Carrington to ready his players for what was to come here. But wherever he went, Flitcroft would not have discovered an antidote to Tevez in this kind of mood.
"He was a ghost," the manager said. "With his power and pace we could not get near him."
The rout began with a flick from Yaya Touré for David Silva, whose shot was palmed on to the post by Steele. As it dribbled clear, Tevez beat Stephen Foster to the rebound. When he was first arrested for driving offences, Tevez celebrated goals by pretending to hold a steering wheel. Now that it has all become rather more serious, it was probably just as well that he merely ran to the City fans with his arms outstretched. His second carried a higher degree of difficulty. A short pass from Silva saw Tevez with his back to goal and under pressure from Martin Cranie. The defender might have expected a back-flick from the Argentinian's yellow boots; instead they turned venomously on him and City were three up.
A two-handed save from Steele merely delayed the hat-trick which arrived via Samir Nasri's cross, and although Cranie once more tried to block him, Tevez was again too quick.
It stung Barnsley into a kind of hopelessly belated action as Ryan Tunnicliffe sprinted goalwards, his face screwed up with determination. But for the long legs of Costel Pantilimon, the 6,000 who travelled from Yorkshire would have had their consolation.
Instead, there was merely more pain as Tevez, later forced off with a tight hamstring, picked out Silva, who, despite Steele blocking his first attempt, was able almost to walk the ball home.
Even with his side 5-0 up, James Milner still crashed a shot against the post. It was merciless. The FA Cup carried the romance of an accident and emergency ward on a Saturday night.Reuse content