Moussa Dembélé pounced to score two late goals as Fulham U18s secured their place in the last eight of the FA Youth Cup by knocking out Manchester City.
After a deadlocked first half, Liam Donnelly headed the Whites ahead in the Fifth Round tie but Thierry Ambrose hit back for the home side in the game at Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park.
It continued to be a closely-fought contest until Dembélé seized the initiative, reacting brilliantly to hook past City keeper Billy O’Brien after Patrick Roberts’ determined 78th-minute run.
And Dembélé ensured victory was secure in this clash between the current leaders of the respective Northern and Southern sections of the Barclays U18 Premier League, with a crisp 84th-minute volley.
Steve Wigley’s boys edged a seven-goal thriller when the teams met in a September league outing, and the danger signs for City appeared early on as George Williams’ header deflected narrowly wide.
Moments later, Dean O’Halloran delivered another pin-point cross but Cameron Burgess headed the wrong side of the crossbar as the home side rode out the Whites’ pressure in the first five minutes.
City’s first sight on goal arrived after a crunching tackle from skipper Donnelly resulted in a corner and Kean Bryan climbed highest but couldn’t direct his effort on target from 10 yards.
With City growing into the game, the Whites were forced to defend more set-pieces and goalkeeper Marek Rodàk breathed a sigh of relief when Mathias Bossaerts nodded wide from three yards.
Dembélé gave City a reminder of his presence, almost collecting Emerson Hyndman’s delicate pass, and keeper O’Brien had to back-peddle to push Jordan Evans' looping cross over.
It was Rodàk who was soon outshining his opposite number, however, stopping Ambrose’s cross with his legs before reacting to make a double save from Olivier Ntcham’s eight-yard drive.
The Whites were moving the ball well as the half hour passed and Roberts drifted into space on the left, only to be stopped by Bossaerts last-ditch tackle. The latest Whites youngster to sign a professional deal then ghosted to the right, his 25-yard strike missing the goalpost by a whisker.
Home keeper O’Brien was made to dive full-stretch to stop Burgess’ towering far-post header and Dembélé made City’s backline sweat again, this time Ashley Smith-Brown supplying the saving tackle.
Dembélé’s threat continued after the interval and a minute into the second half the Frenchman had the ball in the City net but Soloman Sambou, who supplied the square ball, was flagged offside.
Rodàk reacted brilliantly again when called upon to claw Jorge Intima’s jabbed six-yard shot away from his line on 55 minutes, and City paid the price for the missed opportunity moments later.
A sweeping Whites counter earned a corner and Donnelly wriggled free of his marker to power in O’Halloran’s inviting delivery. The Captain was soon making an impact at both ends, charging down Ntcham’s goal-bound 18-yard drive as City looked for a reply.
The hosts continued to attack with intent, and Ambrose levelled the scores by glancing home Jose Tasende’s out-swinging cross with the finest of touches. Jack Byrne spurned two decent chances to put City ahead, one scuffed at Rodàk, one driven over, and the Whites responded in the best possible way.
Roberts had thundered down the right wing to open up room between City’s defenders but his pull-back from the by-line left Dembélé with plenty to do in turning the ball past O’Brien with his back to goal.
No sooner had the Whites gone ahead, gaps opened in their opponents’ half and O’Halloran exploited the space to find Dembélé, who again showed his striker’s instincts to rifle in his second of the night.
City substitute Bersant Celina forced another good block from Rodàk in the closing stages but the Whites played out time to secure a Sixth Round match-up with Huddersfield Town, the shock conquerors of Manchester United in Round Five.
Fulham: Rodàk; Sheckleford, Donnelly, Burgess, Evans; O'Halloran, Hyndman, Sambou, Williams; Roberts; Dembélé. Substitutes: Norman, Baba, Leacock-McLeod, Nabay, Walker.