Belfast Telegraph

Pablo Zabaleta: We know how good Claudio Bravo is - he just needs confidence

Pablo Zabaleta says his Manchester City team-mates will rally round Claudio Bravo after another difficult night for the under-fire goalkeeper.

Bravo, who has recently been dropped for Willy Caballero, endured the indignity of being taunted by his own fans in City's FA Cup fifth-round replay victory over Huddersfield on Wednesday.

The Chilean, playing for just the second time in seven games, was sarcastically applauded and cheered after making a save during the 5-1 triumph at the Etihad Stadium.

Supporters' disdain had been fuelled by an early error from the 33-year-old as he allowed a saveable Harry Bunn shot to pass under his body and give the Sky Bet Championship side a surprise lead.

That merely continued a theme after Bravo conceded from all six of the shots he faced in successive games against Everton and Tottenham in January.

Those performances cost Bravo, who controversially supplanted Joe Hart earlier this season, his place in the side, with Caballero taking over until manager Pep Guardiola's usual domestic cup rotation policy saw him return.

Defender Zabaleta said: "We know Claudio. It's not easy when you come to England - it's a different league.

"We are a team, we support each other. We know exactly what he can do for the team and that's it. We know how good he is and sometimes it is just about confidence.

"His distribution with the ball was really good."

City, who had hit the post through Leroy Sane early on, were initially stunned by the seventh-minute strike from Bunn, who is a Manchester City academy graduate.

But, with Guardiola having named a strong side, they powered back to take charge before the break.

Two penalty appeals had been turned down before Sane levelled and Aguero, who also hit the post, put them ahead from the spot. Aguero teed up the third for Zabaleta and added a fourth in the second half. Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho completed the scoring in stoppage time.

Zabaleta said: "I think if you look at the whole game, we were the better team.

"Maybe in the first 15 minutes we gave the ball away cheaply and maybe our play was a little bit sloppy, but once we equalised and then scored the second goal I think we were a different team and we looked very dangerous going forward."

City will now play Middlesbrough in the quarter-finals and, with the Premier League title looking out of reach and the Champions League tough, the competition could represent their best hope of silverware this term.

Zabaleta said: "We know how important the FA Cup is and, of course, every single trophy for us is important. We are just working hard to win something and it's one of the things we are looking for. O f course we want to go to Wembley again."

Huddersfield, third in the Championship, now turn their attention back to their promotion challenge and a tough clash against the league leaders on Saturday.

Midfielder Dean Whitehead said: "We can take a lot of positives from our cup run but we will forget about this quickly now and focus on Newcastle."

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