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Johnson salutes amazing City performance

City head coach Lee Johnson heaped praise on his players following their emphatic Carabao Cup victory against Crystal Palace.

Goals from Matty Taylor, Milan Djuric, Joe Bryan and Callum O'Dowda helped send City through to the quarter finals of the competition for the first since 1989.

Palace looked the more likely to score early on and did so through Bakary Sako after just 20 minutes, before City turned on the style to dump another Premier League side out of the cup.

Johnson told BCTV: "I thought it was an outstanding game of football. I thought Crystal Palace showed their Premier League class in the first 15 to 20 minutes. I didn't think we started well though, we didn't hold the ball well up front or get our game going at all.

"After that, basically when Milan Djuric came on and for the first part of the second half, I thought the boys were outstanding. There was quality, energy, good football and two outstanding finishes. It was amazing.

"Did it flatter us, probably a little bit but we saw at the end we were keeping the ball, stringing 20-30 passes together and it just goes to show that when we are at it, we can compete with the best."

Lee Johnson is all smiles as City fight back from a goal down against Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup

Roy Hodgson's side wasted early chances, even hitting the bar before taking lead in front of more than 21,000 fans at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night. 

Johnson said: "I was very concerned because I couldn't see how we were going to get back into the game. I didn't think individuals were playing well enough.

"But in our goal there was a little bit of fortune and it was a great finish from Matty. He's a pest and he annoys the opposition; he's hustled and earned his own luck but after that we settled.

"Milan started getting hold of the ball, allowing the midfield to join the play and I thought Josh Brownhill was absolutely fantastic today. He looks like an unbelievable signing. He was running rings around Premier League players so I'm delighted for him but to a man, everybody played well."

An injury to Famara Diédhiou meant Johnson was forced to bring Djuric into the game - his first competitive start for City since his groin injury in April.

One shot, one goal: Milan Djuric marks his return to first-team football against Crystal Palace

The tall striker was on the scoresheet not long after coming on, controlling a long-throw from Hordur Magnusson before lashing his strike beyond Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal.

Johnson continued: "Milan's a good player. He's physical and how many aerial balls did he win tonight? His presence created the first goal and it was a good goal for him to score after a long throw from Magnusson. He used his strength and we need that option.

"I was only really allowed to play him for 20 minutes and I had Eros Pisano who could only do 55 minutes. With Famara Diédhiou going down, which doesn't look good, we may have to chuck Djuric straight in again."

Bryan grabbed the third goal, drilling the ball beyond Hennessy with an effort from the edge of the box before O'Dowda's volley added the extra polish.

Johnson continued: "He [Bryan] has got that power hasn't he! At the time I was thinking 'cross it, cross it' because we had a couple of players overloading the posts.

"I had that feeling when he smashed it in; I was stunned but not wanting to be wrong, so it was a delayed celebration but it was a great strike.

"I'm delighted for Callum too as well because there's been a lot of pressure heaped on him for not scoring and we know he is a good player, so that will give him the confidence to go and get two or three more.

"I'm more pleased for Callum but I'd have to say Joe's goal was the pick of the day."

"We'll try and get to the semi-finals! We don't know the draw yet but my first thoughts are nothing to do with it being the cup. It's who can I play, what's my team going to be and that's one of the stresses of a manager / head coach, particularly with the injuries we have got but I will find the time to enjoy it and when that draw comes, two third of Bristol will be watching."

INJURY CONCERNS

Johnson told the press he hoped to have Bobby Reid (ankle), Korey Smith (hamstring) and Nathan Baker (knee) back available by the weekend.

However, doubts remain over Diédhiou (knee), while Jens Hegeler has flown to Germany to see a specialist for his injured knee and Gary O'Neil remains a long-term absentee.