Report: Bristol City 2-3 Manchester City
Tuesday, January 23rd 2018
City’s inspired Carabao Cup run has come to an end after a thrilling 3-2 semi-final defeat against Manchester City (5-3 on aggregate).
Marlon Pack’s header and Aden Flint’s tap-in drew City level after Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero fired the Citizens ahead with goals either side of the break.
At 2-2 the result was already in Pep Guardiola side’s favour but Kevin De Bruyne pounced with the final kick of the tie to complete the scoring.
Ashton Gate, a sea of noise and colour for the Tuesday night semi-final second leg, was packed to the rafters and emulated the atmosphere which helped the Robins overcome their Premier League opponents in previous rounds.
But the Premier League’s top team proved to be a step too far for Lee Johnson’s squad, who will be very proud of their achievements.
Luke Steele started in goal, with Frank Fielding out for up to three weeks with a groin injury. Nathan Baker (ankle) started on the bench after passing a fitness test, as did Famara Diédhiou, who is still returning to full fitness after months on the sidelines with a knee problem.
ATTACK THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE
Manchester City started with blistering pace, as expected, while the Robins looked to press their opponents as high up the pitch as possible.
The woodwork came to their rescue, denying Sergio Aguero from opening the scoring with a clipped cross, before the Argentine striker had a shot blocked after he latched on to a short pass from Liam Walsh.
It was Oleksandr Zinchenko’s turn to then fire off-target as the away side broke away, after Claudio Bravo stood firm to hold a dangerous Joe Bryan free kick.
And the Citizens’ attacking display didn’t stop there, with Steele showing a strong hand to turn away a low cross from David Silva, with no player in blue able to convert with a tap-in.
FLINT GOES CLOSE
Aden Flint came closest to putting the Robins ahead though when he looped a header goalwards, following a trademark Hordur Magnusson throw but Bravo was equal to the effort.
You got the sense if would only be a matter of time before Guardiola's men would find a way through, despite the host’s excellent defending, and it came just as the Robins thought they would reach half-time all square.
Unfortunately, Sane had other ideas and he pounced after Magnusson struggled to clear his lines. The shot took a huge deflection off Flint as he dived heroically to block the strike, but in the process he turned the ball beyond Steele.
Head coach Johnson brought Diédhiou and Baker into the game to add more stability and attacking threat but Aguero, who tipped the tie in the Citizens favour with his late goal at the Etihad, struck to double their lead once more.
It came just as the Robins looked to get an attack going of their own but England’s leaders countered with De Bruyne, who found his Argentine teammate, with the striker dispatching a right-footed shot into the far corner.
PACK KEEPS THE FAITH
The Robins failed to let their heads drop though as Diedhiou forced Bravo to parry a shot minutes before they halved the deficit; that goal came courtesy of Marlon Pack, who rose like a giant to head Jamie Paterson’s clipped cross beyond the diving Bravo.
The Blues knew the home side would not go down without a fight and they looked to put more daylight between the clubs. Kyle Walker looked to assist as he crossed from the right wing but the sliding Flint was in the way, this time turning the ball away from goal.
Danilo went on to fire just wide of goal and Steele tipped away a Gundogan effort in stopping time but the drama would not end there.
HEROES TO THE END
Substitute Ryan Kent did well to keep possession and he pinged a ball towards the unmarked Reid, whose ball across goal was tapped home by Flint in the final stages.
The crowd roared the home side on even when De Bruyne steered in Sane’s cross just seconds later to make it 3-2 on the night - and the BS3 applause continued continued long after the final whistle.
Johnson’s City will now turn their attentions back to the Sky Bet Championship and prepare to take on QPR at the Gate on Saturday (3pm kick-off).