Who Is This Baby Boy Who Scored That Worldie For Man City Today?

Cole Palmer, 19 going on 13, had a goal and an assist in the FA Cup on Friday.

I’ll be honest, I tuned into Manchester City’s third-round FA Cup match against fourth-tier Swindon Town mostly to see how American Zack Steffen performed in goal. I came away impressed with 19-year-old Cole Palmer, who scored a banger of a goal to go with an assist in City’s 4-1 win on Friday.

For the biggest clubs, the early rounds of the FA Cup are often a great opportunity for young players to get some first-team action against lower-tier clubs. Despite playing Swindon Town, which last season was relegated from EFL League One and is currently 72 places below City, the Citizens threw nine regulars onto the County Ground pitch to start along with Steffen and Palmer. 

Steffen wasn’t able to hold on to a clean sheet despite facing just three shots on target, but fresh-faced Palmer flourished given a chance to play with the starters. The only downside to Palmer’s performance was Pep Guardiola wasn’t there to see it, unable to attend because of Covid-19. 

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Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and İlkay Gündoğan all joined Palmer on the score sheet, but none of that is much of a surprise given the level of competition (though Gündoğan’s goal was quite nice). And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by Palmer’s performance given he already has a Champions League goal to his name this season, but Palmer was simply superb for the Citizens on Friday.

Palmer has been with City since joining the youth ranks in 2010 before he even turned 10. He made his senior debut in September 2020 in a fourth-round EFL Cup match against Burnley and scored his first senior goal a year later in the same competition against Wycombe. On October 16, Palmer played one minute in a win over Burnley in the Premier League and that same night scored a hat trick against Leicester in a U-23 match. Three days later, Palmer netted his first Champions League goal as a substitute in the 5-1 victory over Club Brugge. Though he’s made more appearances in Premier League 2 with the U-23s this season than any other competition, Friday was his 12th appearance with the senior squad, showing the attacking midfielder is certainly a part of Guardiola’s plans during a season stretching clubs thin with Covid-19.

“We have him training with us on a daily basis and he has great quality, everyone can see that,” Guardiola’s assistant Rodolfo Borrell told ITV Sport after the match. “He is a great player, there is a lot of talent there and hopefully very soon he can start to play more minutes with us like Phil Foden did a couple of years ago.”

Cole Palmer vs. Swindon Town

Palmer started things off Friday with some excellent wing play. The youngster turned his defender inside out before shooting a cross toward Bernardo Silva, who I’m told only scores tap ins, such as this one was.

Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0 inside half an hour thanks to some high pressing and a well-weighted pass from Kevin de Bruyne.

Gündoğan made it three just before the hour mark with a superb free kick. Despite the range, the German was able to sneak a curling effort inside the near post. 

Gabriel Jesus had a penalty saved by Lewis Ward before Harry McKirdy hammered a shot past Steffen to make it 3-1 and give the home fans something to cheer about. Perhaps Steffen could have done more to stop the shot, but take nothing away from McKirdy’s moment, as the 24-year-old wheeled away celebrating like he’d just won the World Cup. (To be fair, a fourth-tier club scoring against the best team in the country is a pretty dang spectacular accomplishment; I don’t at all begrudge McKirdy for celebrating despite trailing 3-1.)

Finally, Palmer finished things off with a beautiful goal to make it 4-1 in the 82nd minute. From a tight angle, the teenager pinged the ball perfectly into the far corner, striking the woodwork twice before going into the back of the net. 

Cole Palmer Goal vs Swindon Town

Beautiful. 

Cole Palmer is now The18’s favorite Cole since this Cole

In other baby boy news Friday, Bayern Munich’s Paul Wanner became the second-youngest player in Bundesliga history, coming on in a 2-1 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach. The Bavarians were without nine players who had Covid-19 plus a few more away at the Africa Cup of Nations or with injury. 

Information from Reuters was used in this report.