Report: Bristol City 2-1 Manchester United
Wednesday, December 20th 2017
Korey Smith's 93rd minute goal sealed a memorable night at Ashton Gate, sending City through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, at the expense of Manchester United.
A thunderbolt from Joe Bryan gave City the lead early in the second half before Zlatan Ibrahimovic drew level with a free-kick seven minutes later.
But Smith’s late strike sent United packing in a match where City more than matched their Premier League opponents.
It means City have equalled their historic 1988/89 run to the semi-finals and now a two-legged clash with Manchester City awaits.
Luke Steele returned between the sticks in the only change to Lee Johnson’s side from the 2-1 win against Nottingham Forest last weekend.
United’s record signing Paul Pogba returned to Jose Mourinho’s starting XI, following a three-match ban, with veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic handed his first start of the season.
A BOUNCING BS3
It was an electric atmosphere under the lights and City looked more than up for the occasion. They looked alert and fought for every ball with their Premier League opposition.
The Robins were terrier-like in their pursuit for another cup shock and it was Josh Brownhill who went close to grabbing the opener, when Sergio Romero pushed away the former United Academy player’s free-kick.
Steele turned an Ibrahimovic shot onto the bar, after the former Swedish international connected with Anthony Martial’s cross-field pass. Scott McTominay blazed off-target not long after as the European champions began to flex their muscles.
But City would not be forced out of this one easily and Blind was forced into a goal-line clearance as Hordur Magnusson connected with a Marlon Pack corner.
United wasted further chances as the half progressed, with Marcus Rashford drilling a fine effort off Steele’s post and Pogba fizzed a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
City did have the ball in the net, courtesy of Aden Flint, the referee Michael Dean had already signalled for a foul on Romero.
City’s Icelandic international Magnusson then stung the United keeper’s palms as half-time crept ever closer. Brownhill pass swept to his left where his teammate had run from deep. The ball set up nicely for the defender and his drilled shot was well pushed away by the United keeper.
Johnson's side were well and truly pushing for an opener and another opportunity almost came its way before the end of the first period of play. Blind was forced into a last-ditch challenge on Smith as the midfielder looked destined to score when played through by Jamie Paterson.
The second half began as open as the first, with both sides quickly among the chances.
Firstly, Steele was forced into a smart save as he pushed away a free kick from England international Rashford, before Bobby Reid rippled the side netting at the other end.
But it was the Championship promotion contenders who drew first blood. Pack played a teasing ball into the feet of Bryan and the Bristolian unleashed a first-time, piledriver of a shot, right into the top corner, leaving Romero with no chance whatsoever.
Mourinho’s men equalised not long after when Ibrahimovic struck a low free kick with the outside of his right boot.
Life-long United fan Flint came close to restoring the lead but placed a header wide from a long Magnusson throw, while Steele denied the away side on more than one occasion to keep City in the tie.
The keeper first denied Lukaku from close range, before tipping a header from the BeLgian international wide.
City’s shot stopper showed bravery to rob the ball of Pogba when the French midfielder danced forward and he again denied Lukaku, showing fast reflexes to tip another low strike out for a corner.
But City had been resolute, dogged and far from outplayed in this tie and were thoroughly deserving of their last strike. The game was deep into the third minute of added time when substitute Matty Taylor lifted a pass into the path of Smith.
The midfielder took one touch on the turn and drilled a shot low, through the legs of Romeru to send the Ashton Gate faithful into dreamland.
City have now beaten four Premier League opponents in the cup and will face Manchester City over two legs in the semi-finals.