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LONDON: Kevin De Bruyne made his long-awaited return to Manchester City in the third round on Sunday as the FA Cup holders defeated Huddersfield 5-0.

Belgian midfielder De Bruyne has been sidelined since tearing his hamstring in City’s Premier League opener against Burnley in August.

He finally returned to the game as a substitute in the 57th minute in City’s dramatic victory over the Championship-contending side at the Etihad Stadium.

When the 32-year-old was replaced by Julian Alvarez, cries of “Oh, Kevin De Bruyne” rang out from the stands.

When De Bruyne was brought on, Josep Guardiola’s side were leading with goals from Phil Foden and Alvarez.

De Bruyne’s arrival continued the momentum as City scored three more goals, an own goal from Ben Jackson, a goal from Foden and a second-half substitute from Jeremy Doku, who returned from injury.

Fittingly, Doc’s goal was set up by a deft lofted pass from De Bruyne.

City will survive without De Bruyne, but his world-class quality in midfield will be a key factor in their bid to remain in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Having won five major trophies in 2023, City have their sights set on winning more silver medals in the new year, and the first step on the road back to Wembley couldn’t have been easier.

In 1987, City famously beat Huddersfield 10-1 in a game in which he scored three hat-tricks.

It wasn’t quite as brutal for Huddersfield, but despite Rodri’s absence due to the death of Grandma and the injured Erling Haaland, there was no doubt that City would progress.

After Alvarez’s shot was blocked, Foden broke Huddersfield’s resistance in the 33rd minute and tucked his shot into the near post.

Four minutes later, Alvarez got City’s second goal, putting his body on the line to pick up Rico Ruiz’s pass from close range.

De Bruyne was only on for a few seconds when Oscar Bobb’s shot was deflected by Jackson for City’s third goal.

Foden struck again in the 65th minute with a clinically low effort from 20 yards. Belgian winger Doku scored the winning goal in the 74th minute when he connected with De Bruyne’s superb pass to open the scoring.

Meanwhile, Luton, who are struggling in the Premier League, were held to a 0-0 draw by third-tier Bolton at Kenilworth Road.

In their first top-flight campaign since 1992, Luton’s main objective was survival and a debilitating replay was the last thing Hatters boss Rob Edwards needed.

Nottingham Forest also gave a scare to their League One opponents as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side came back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Blackpool.

Last year, when the Seasiders were in the Championship, Blackpool defeated Forest in the third round and almost repeated the same trick at the City Ground.

Forest Academy graduate Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel scores with a stunning diving header in the 25th minute against his former club.

Albie Morgan extended Blackpool’s lead to two points in the 27th minute, calmly converting CJ Hamilton’s cross at the far post.

However, in the 39th minute Gonzalo Montiel’s cross was converted by Nicolas Dominguez, and in the 56th minute Morgan Gibbs-White equalized from 18 yards.

West Ham ended in a 1-1 draw with second division Bristol City at the London Stadium.

Jarrod Bowen ran in on Lucas Paqueta’s lofted pass and scored in the fifth minute.

However, the influential playmaker Paqueta was forced to leave due to injury midway through the first half, which was a big blow.

Tommy Conway then scored the equalizer in the 61st minute past Łukasz Fabianski, sending the 9,000 traveling City fans into a frenzy.

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