Thursday, April 25, 2024

Manchester City (3) 0-1 (2) Manchester United: Nemanja Matic goes from hero to villain as gutsy Red Devils bow out

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Manchester City booked their place in a third consecutive League Cup final despite falling to a 1-0 defeat to near neighbours Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Nemanja Matic gave United a shock lead with a brilliant volley from inside the area in the 35th minute. He then went from hero to villain though as two bookable offences saw him sent off with just under 15 minutes of normal time remaining. The visitors were stubborn throughout but weren’t quite able to get a second, with City going through to face Aston Villa at Wembley.

Matic scores against the run of play

As was to be expected, the hosts started at an electric pace but David De Gea held firm to keep the scores on the night level. First, he tipped Sergio Aguero’s diving header away, before also managing to get a foot to Riyad Mahrez’s low effort. The Spaniard then had to be alert once again as Aguero set his sights for the top corner.

Despite that period of dominance, it was actually the Red Devils who took the lead with their first attempt at goal. A deep free-kick fell to Matic in the box and he swept the ball home with a brilliant right-footed volley that kissed the base of the post as it flew into the net.

The hosts thought they had equalised just before the break as a sumptuous move saw Raheem Sterling score but the England man was adjudged offside.

United defend stoutly

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men still needing one goal to take the game to penalties, they still tried to create chances. Harry Maguire should have followed up his goal against Tranmere with another but lifted a header high over the crossbar.

By the hour-mark, City were effectively playing on the counter-attack. Whilst that has not been the style that most supporters had been accustomed to, it was almost their most potent weapon as Sterling was played clean through, skipped around De Gea but could only lift his shot high over the crossbar.

Surprisingly, Kyle Walker almost showed his England teammate how it was done as he forced an excellent save out of De Gea with a booming drive.

City pass up golden chances

For all of their excellent work at the Etihad, the Red Devils were nearly undone completely by one of their most reliable players. A poor pass from Maguire was picked off in the box, with the ball presenting itself to David Silva. Instead of just smashing the ball home, the Spaniard elected to pass, allowing United to get back and scramble clear.

The hosts were given a huge boost with a quarter of an hour remaining as Matic was given his marching orders. After picking up a soft booking in the first-half, the Serbian then hauled down Ilkay Gundogan, picking up his second caution and a red card.

VAR denies City equaliser on the night

Guardiola’s troops again thought they had taken advantage of their extra man and finally wrapped up their place at Wembley as Aguero scored from Joao Cancelo’s through-ball but the offside flag denied the Argentine his goal.

That mattered not though as City stemmed the United tide just enough to book their spot in the final with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Final Thoughts

United’s performance on the night was tremendous, and that should be some solace for supporters and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Red Devils were much improved from the first-leg and there wouldn’t have been too many complaints should they taken the tie to penalties. On the other hand, City did potentially create the better opportunities and will look forward to yet another final under Pep Guardiola.

Match Report

Manchester City: Bravo (6); Cancelo (6), Otamendi (5), Rodri (6), Walker (6); B. Silva (7), Gundogan (6), De Bruyne (7) (Stones (N/A), 90+1′); Sterling (6), Mahrez (6) (D. Silva (6), 68′), Aguero (6) (Jesus (N/A), 90+3′).

Manchester United: De Gea (7); Shaw (6) (Mata (N/A), 79′), Maguire (7), Lindelöf (6); Williams (6), Matic (6), Fred (6), Wan-Bissaka (7); Lingard (6) (Pereira (5), 65′), Martial (6), Greenwood (5) (James (6), 46′).

Goals: Matic (35′)

Referee: Kevin Friend

Yellow Cards: Matic (51′, 76′), Rodri (57′), Otamendi (87′), Wan-Bissaka (90+4′)

Red Cards: Matic (76′)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is a football journalism graduate from the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately six years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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