James Milner double saves Manchester City from embarrassment
Man City 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini spoke of his relief after his side made heavy weather of Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup third round.
James Milner struck twice, including a stoppage-time winner, as the Barclays Premier League champions came from behind to beat their battling Sky Bet Championship opponents 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
City toiled after falling behind to an Atdhe Nuhiu strike in the 14th minute and only roused themselves in the latter stages with Milner switching to a forward role and equalising after 65 minutes.
Pellegrini said: "Yes I am relieved because we didn't play well.
"We play very badly except the last 20 minutes, when we hit another gear to try to create the space against a team that defended very well.
"When you play against this kind of team it is difficult when you are 1-0 down."
Milner's double was the perfect way for the England international to celebrate his 29th birthday, but his future at the club is still to be resolved.
Milner's contract expires at the end of the season and, although talks over a new deal have reached an advanced stage, nothing has yet been signed and he has been linked with Liverpool.
Pellegrini said: "(There is) no news. I hope we will find an arrangement."
Milner grabbed the headlines but the real catalyst for City's fightback was the double introduction of playmakers David Silva and Samir Nasri just after the hour.
Pellegrini had rested the pair among six changes but they made an immediate impact after coming on. They both had a hand in the equaliser and Silva had a chance to win the game himself late on before setting up Milner's second.
Pellegrini said: "We have a lot of players and (have had) a lot of games in the last 10 days. We have played four.
"We didn't do well but when we returned to our normal offensive formation with (Jesus) Navas, Silva, Nasri and Milner on top we scored two goals."
Wednesday's performance was much improved from their last visit to Eastlands, when they were thrashed 7-0 in the Capital One Cup in September.
Manager Stuart Gray was pleased with the Owls' performance and felt just one late lapse cost them.
Gray said: "It was nice to go in at 1-0, I think we thoroughly deserved it.
"We had a gameplan to hit them on the break, we frustrated them.
"In the end they have shown us total respect as they put on Silva and Nasri and (Gael) Clichy. It was just tired minds that caught us out.
"The winning goal was a mistake by us but I am so proud of my players."