For ninety two seconds, a sensational FA Cup shock looked on. You would never have guessed that Fabio Carvalho’s big move to Liverpool had fallen through at the last. Here he was, less than a week later, providing ample evidence that he could thrive on English football’s biggest stage. The talented teenager tapped Fulham in front at the home of the Premier League leaders, finishing over a flowing move started by a superb searching ball from Aleksandar Mitrovic for Harry Wilson, to the delight of more than 3,000 travelling supporters.

That delirium didn’t last. Whilst Fulham were true to their pre-match words of going toe-to-toe with the English champions, they would not have planned on conceding a couple of soft goals to hand their hosts the initiative. The first came with their glee at going ahead having hardly settled. City seemed insulted by the fact their visitors had the temerity to score first. Phil Foden charged towards the penalty area with purpose, Tim Ream pulled off a terrific tackle to deny Jack Grealish, but the ball broke for Riyad Mahrez, whose low cross was turned home by Ilkay Gundogan.

Still, Fulham poured numbers forward. Silva’s starting line-up was far stronger than many had predicted: there was no eye on Millwall, here, and his players seemed eager to take the attack to City. Mitrovic slipped as he tried to shot from the edge of the area and one spell of seventeen passes in the final third almost led to an opening for Neeskens Kebano. The Serbian striker seemed determined to show that he can play at a higher level and in a different role to that of hulking centre forward. He won the ball back in his own half, galloped onto a return ball from Kebano and almost released Wilson but Zack Steffen grabbed the ball before the Welsh winger.

The worry was always going to be about Fulham’s ability to compete in the other penalty area. Neco Williams endured the toughest of baptisms on his Fulham debut, but he did the right thing to flick a header behind with blue shirts swarming all over him. The defending from the resultant set piece was shambolic, though. Tosin Adarabioyo allowed John Stones far too much from to glance a header in the far corner from in front of the near post. It was a goal that felt thoroughly avoidable.

Fulham continued to throw caution to the wind. From an inventive free kick, Wilson floated a ball towards the far post and, with Mitrovic lining up a simple header to equalise, Foden climbed to nod away in the nick of time. The visitors’ sense of adventure from open play was even more compelling. Carvalho, full of tricks and the audacity of youth, was at the heart of everything. He threaded a beautiful ball between City’s centre backs and Mitrovic, after turning superbly, was annoyed with himself to drag a shot well wide.

You sensed that Silva’s side were clinging on for dear life at the back. Ream and Adarabioyo produced brave blocks as City pressed for a killer third before half time and the gulf in class became apparent in a second half where the hosts attacked at will. They may have had a bit of fortune with the way they established a commanding lead. Grealish embellished the contact as he tumbled over a trailing leg from Joe Bryan and Mahrez powered home the penalty, before the Algerian’s scuffed finish benefited from a deflection off the luckless Ream after a peach of a pass from Kevin de Bruyne.

City might easily have had more, although that would have been harsh on Fulham. Foden and Sterling went close before Liam Delap had the ball in the net at the death, but was correctly flagged offside. The visitors kept playing until the end. Carvalho should have scored a second but shot straight at Steffen after the City goalkeeper had fisted Kebano’s drive start out in front of him and Ream reached an Anthony Knockaert corner ahead of Steffen but his header trickled just wide of goal.

Fulham’s priority has to be making these sort of trips a regular occurrence rather than once in a blue moon. They are well placed to make another immediate return to the Premier League, but however well equipped Silva’s side might be to dominate the second tier his defence would need radical summer surgery. The Whites were electrifying at times here, but steel will have to accompany style to ensure any sort of stay at English football’s top table.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-2-3-1): Steffen; Walker, Cancelo (Zinchenko 67), Ake, Stones; Fernandinho, Gundogan; Mahrez (McAtee 78), Foden (Bernado Silva 78), de Bruyne (Sterling 68); Grealish (Delap 77). Subs (not used): Ederson, Dias, Laporte, Rodrigo.

BOOKED: Walker.

GOALS: Gundogan (6), Stones (13), Mahrez (pen 53, 57).

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Williams, Bryan, Adarabioyo, Ream; Chalobah, Reed (Seri 67); Wilson (Cairney 75), Kebano (Knockaert 67), Carvalho (Cavaleiro 88); Mitrovic (Muniz 75). Subs (not used): Rodak, Hector, Mawson, Onomah.

GOAL: Carvalho (4).

REFEREE: Jared Gillett (Australia).