Bernardo Silva struck twice early on as Manchester City eased into the FA Cup fourth round with a comfortable 3-0 win over Championship side Birmingham.
Phil Foden also netted in the first half as 2019 winners City began their latest cup quest with a routine victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Birmingham, 18th in the Championship and without a win in their previous six games, rarely troubled the hosts aside from a Jeremie Bela-led late flurry when the result was already beyond doubt.
City could have won by more, such was their dominance, and Riyad Mahrez had a second-half effort ruled out for offside.
City had hoped their starting line-up would feature record goalscorer Sergio Aguero for the first time since October but the Argentinian, who is being eased back into action after knee trouble, did not even make the bench.
No explanation for his absence was given before the game but the club did confirm the 32-year-old was not injured and was otherwise unavailable. There were reports the player was self-isolating but these were not confirmed.
- Sergio Aguero in isolation after close contact
- FA Cup results | FA Cup fixtures
- Match stats | How the teams lined up
Aguero’s presence, however, was hardly required on this occasion as City made easy work of Birmingham.
Pep Guardiola’s men were so fluid, with numerous players switching positions depending on the nature of an attack, the visitors simply could not get a handle on them.
City soon established complete control and almost put the game out of sight within the first quarter of an hour.
The opening goal came after seven minutes. Joao Cancelo, who frequently drifted into central midfield from right-back, clipped the ball into the area and George Friend’s attempted clearance fell to Silva on the edge of the area. The Portuguese adjusted instantly and fired a chest-high half-volley into the roof of the net.
It was a spectacular strike and Silva was on hand again to double the lead soon after. This time it may have been a mere tap-in but the build-up was similarly impressive as City carved the visitors open.
Mahrez played in Kevin De Bruyne with a clever ball with the outside of his foot and the Belgian pulled back from the byline to present Silva with a simple finish.
It was inevitable City would score more as Foden shot wide following a neat turn and Gabriel Jesus, back in the side after returning from isolation, got behind the defence only for goalkeeper Andres Prieto to intervene.
Foden wanted a penalty after a challenge by Mikel San Jose but, had it been given, replays suggested any offence would have been outside the area.
Foden was not deterred and struck the third just after the half-hour mark. The 20-year-old took a neat touch to wrong-foot a defender following a break from Mahrez and then drilled a left-foot shot into the bottom corner from distance.
A rare Birmingham attack saw Friend have a deflected shot saved by Zack Steffen before Jesus had an effort hooked off the line by Maikel Kieftenbeld.
Silva twice went close to completing his hat-trick with efforts that hit the side-netting and rolled wide either side of the break.
City’s intensity slowed after a series of substitutions but Mahrez was unlucky to be denied by a tight offside call when he volleyed in on the hour.
Birmingham began to get a few openings in the latter stages as City eased off. Substitute Bela proved a handful, twice troubling Steffen with long-range strikes and then hitting another narrowly over.
What the managers said...
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "The first objective was done - qualify for next round. We did it with a really good first half. We made nice goals. I am happy for Bernardo. He made two goals and could have scored more. The first half was really good.
"In the second half they changed the set-up. We struggled a little bit to find our spaces but we are in the next round. If you follow the trajectory for our team, we don't drop one competition. That is why we are in finals four times in a row in the Carabao Cup and why we won the FA Cup two seasons ago."
Birmingham boss Aitor Karanka: "We finished the game in the way we should have started. We were not as aggressive as we should have been but in the second half everything changed. We approached it much better. I wanted to play 90 minutes in the way we played the last 45.
"The main thing when you are coming to this kind of game is to be aggressive and strong. If you allow them to play, if you are jogging behind the ball instead of being aggressive, the only thing that can happen is what happened.
"I was pleased when I saw their first XI because it meant Pep respected us. We wanted to do something here. We showed the second half we should have been more aggressive from the beginning."
FA Cup 2020/21 - key dates and draw
The FA Cup schedule has been confirmed, with the final scheduled at Wembley on Saturday May 15.
There will be no replays this season to help ease fixture congestion.
The draw for both the fourth and fifth rounds will take place on Monday January 11, ahead of the third-round tie between Stockport and West Ham.
- Fourth round: Saturday January 23
- Fifth round: Wednesday February 10
- Quarter-finals: Saturday March 20
- Semi-finals: Saturday April 17
- Final: Saturday May 15