Barnsley’s FA Cup dream ended at the quarter-final stage at the home of the Premier League champions as hat-trick hero Carlos Tevez put his off-field problems to one side to send Manchester City motoring into the semi-finals.
Tevez could face up to six months in prison after he was arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of driving whilst disqualified.
The Argentina striker is due back at Macclesfield police station on Tuesday, but showed no sign of anxiety at the Etihad Stadium as he turned in an impressive man-of-the-match performance, scoring three and also claiming two assists as City swatted Barnsley away with the minimum of fuss, equalling their biggest win of the season.
They are also still in with a shot at becoming only the fourth side - and first since Bury in 1903 - to lift the trophy without conceding a goal.
Although the Blues maintain some hope of retaining the Barclays Premier League title, clearly this competition is their most realistic chance of adding more silverware to the three trophies - including the Community Shield - which manager Roberto Mancini says make his club the most decorated of the last two years.
And, despite a perception that performances are not at the same level as those which brought them the title last term, City are still a number of steps ahead of the likes of Barnsley, as this evening all too brutally showed.
Barnsley boss David Flitcroft accepted City outclassed his side from start to finish.
“I’ve got a dressing room of players who are all in agreement we’ve come up against world stars,” Flitcroft said.
“They came out in the second half and still wanted to put us to the sword. If they’re the second best team in the country at the moment I would not like to have played Manchester United. Some of the football was incredible.
“They were just breathtaking, scintillating in the way they moved the ball.”
Edin Dzeko had already nodded a good chance over when Tevez struck for the first time.
Yaya Toure made it with a quite brilliant flick over the Barnsley defence. David Silva was onto it in a flash, prodding the ball goalwards with the outside of his left foot. Luke Steele managed to push the effort onto a post but the rebound fell kindly for Tevez, who had the easiest of tasks to finish.
It was the signal for City to take complete control, outmanouvering Barnsley at every opportunity.
They clearly had no intention of offering new Barnsley boss David Flitcroft any joy at the expense of the club his brother Garry used to be captain of. And, just before the half-hour, they struck again.
Once more it was a goal of classical efficiency.
After a midfield skirmish, Dzeko threaded a superb pass through for Tevez, whose cutback rolled to the back of the area, from where Aleksandar Kolarov drove it home.
From then on it was just a question of how many the hosts would score.
And with Tevez on a mission, it was never going to be two.
Still, Barnsley would be disappointed with their defending for City’s next.
Despite being surrounded by defenders not that far from the byline, Silva still managed to squeeze a pass to Tevez, who turned quickly before firing home from close-range.
City emerged for the second half with the same potency.
Samir Nasri burst past former Blues trainee Kelvin Etuhu before finding Tevez, who delivered another expert finish.
It completed his sixth hat-trick in England, and his fifth for City, triggering another rendition of “he drives where he wants” from the home faithful.
On days like these it is difficult to work out how Mancini’s side have managed to fall so far adrift of Manchester United.
Steele needed to make an acrobatic save to deny Dzeko, who was not far off with an audacious chip.
It was David Silva who got City’s fifth, though, finishing at the second attempt after Steele had initially denied him.
Barnsley’s on-loan Manchester United midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe tried to make an impression, first by upending Kolarov, then more positively, with a driving run through the City defence.
Costel Pantilimon, an ever-present in the Blues’ cup run, was not to be denied, though, leaving Tunnicliffe to beat the ground in frustration.
It keeps City in which a chance of emulating Wanderers - who admittedly only played one match - Preston and Bury as sides to lift the cup with zero goals conceded.
For former cricket umpire and Barnsley boy Dickie Bird it was painful viewing, although at least he escaped having to signal six when James Milner’s ferocious shot crashed back off the post.
For the full report and reaction read Sports Monday, free inside the Yorkshire Post.