Manchester: If Carlos Tevez is being driven round the bend by the latest controversy in his endlessly problematic career, then he did a good job of hiding it as he steered Manchester City into the semi-finals of the FA Cup with a 5-0 rout of Barnsley.
Forty-eight hours after being arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified, the Argentine demonstrated the gulf between the top of the Premier League and the lower echelons of the Championship with a virtuoso forward`s display.
Tevez clinically dispatched three goals and set up the other two for Aleksandar Kolarov and David Silva, with his most memorable contribution being a quite sumptuous pass to lay on the second for his left-back colleague.
The 28-year-old`s hat-trick extended his recent goal-scoring run to six in four games, lifting him to 15 in total for the season.
Tevez normally looks as if he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, but an Etihad Stadium support who have never stopped holding him in high esteem during his rollercoaster spell at the club were treated to the rare sight of a broad grin when he swept in his third at the 49-minute mark.
At least it should put him in good heart for Tuesday’s appearance at Macclesfield police station, when he could be charged with another motoring offence.
There was a relaxed, low-key atmosphere for most of this David v Goliath clash, with Barnsley forced into damage-limitation following an early attacking onslaught by Roberto Mancini`s team.
By the time that Tevez, Silva and Samir Nasri had been substituted in the second half, the City fans were in party mode and amusing themselves by doing `The Poznan`.
"I have said to the players you must touch the City players in the tunnel to show they are human," said manager David Flitcroft in his pre-match interview shortly before kick-off.
It is not stretching the point to suggest the tunnel exchanges were the closest the Championship strugglers got to City all evening.
Barnsley`s mixture of lower league journeymen and former high rollers, like Marlon Harewood and Kelvin Etuhu, who have lost their way were no match for the Premier League’s second-highest placed team.
Anything other than a City win would have been the shock of the sixth-round FA Cup weekend, but the visitors were never given a sniff from the moment that Tevez put City in the driving seat with the 10th minute opener.
First-half goals from Koloravo, the best of the game, and Tevez followed, with the Argentine completing his hat-trick shortly after the break before Silva completed the evening`s scoring with the fifth at the 64-minute mark.
They rout helped Roberto Mancini’s team book their second FA Cup semi-final place in three years and stay on course for a repeat of the club`s 2011 triumph.
With Wigan Athletic eliminating Everton earlier on Saturday and Manchester United and Chelsea slugging it out on Sunday for a single last-four place, City will be confident of book-ending last year`s Premier League title with a second FA Cup pot in three seasons.
First Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013, 09:48