Manchester City secured a late win over Championship Bristol City at the Etihad Stadium in their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg clash.
Bobby Reid shocked the Premier League giants as he converted from the penalty spot just a minute before half-time to deservedly open the scoring. Kevin De Bruyne replied for Pep Guardiola’s men just after the break with Sergio Agüero heading home in the final moments to ensure the Sky Blues head to Ashton Gate in a fortnight’s time with a slender advantage.
Man City dominate early exhanges
It was the hosts who started the better at Eastlands and Kevin De Bruyne nearly gave them the perfect start as he whipped in a short corner. The ball looked to be heading for the top corner but Robins’ goalkeeper, Frank Fielding, reacted well to paw it away. Bernardo Silva was then the next to go close as he looked to convert Leroy Sané’s cross but Nathan Baker did excellently to block.
The Bristol goalkeeper then had to be at his best to keep out another effort from De Bruyne. The Belgian collected a poor clearance from Lee Johnson’s men but again Fielding produced an athletic stop to deflect the ball away.
Robins threaten Guardiola’s giants
The Championship club continued to have their moments at the Etihad though. Marlon Pack tested Claudio Bravo from distance with a half-volley but the Chilean held the shot well.
With a only a minute to go until half-time, the Robins snatched a deserved lead. Jamie Paterson played an excellent ball to Bobby Reid who looked to be bearing down on goal. He was scythed down by John Stones in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. It was the forward who stepped up and was fortunate to find the net with Bravo guessing the right way and getting a slight touch on the ball. Regardless, City celebrated.
Flint still had to be alert though as Raheem Sterling found space in the box and chipped over Fielding. The Robins’ centre-back though got back well and headed the ball over the bar as it was looping into the net.
Second-half show from City reignites hopes
The second-half kicked-off just as the first had ended – with chances aplenty. Fielding, who was earning his pay at the Etihad, produced a solid stop to deflect another effort from Sterling away.
He could do nothing about the Sky Blues’ leveller however. Bravo played a clever ball to De Bruyne in the centre of the park who moved into considerable space. The ex-Chelsea man fed Sterling on the right-wing, immediately receiving the ball back from the winger. He then slammed into the net from the centre of the penalty area to drag the hosts level. Sterling then went close himself but was again thwarted by Fielding.
City finally make the breakthrough
The pressure continued to build on the Bristol City goal throughout the closing stages. De Bruyne displayed sublime skill to wriggle past two defenders and poke towards the bottom corner. The ball was deflected away however.
Bristol players were soon on their haunches though as substitute Sergio Agüero completed a late turnaround for Guardiola’s troops. Silva put in a teasing, looping cross in the 92nd minute and with Flint attracted the ball, Agüero was able to leap high and with a deft header, nod the ball past Fielding to secure Manchester City a one-goal advantage in the semi-final.
Bristol City will be hurting after conceding such a late goal at the Etihad Stadium. For a long time, it looked as though the Robins were heading towards a highly-credible draw. Their solidarity and fearlessness was clear for all to see. However, one lapse in concentration has cost them.
Having said that, there is only a one-goal deficit to over-turn to reach the final as the two teams look ahead to the second-leg at Aston Gate. If they repeat the performance of Tuesday evening, they could progress.
Whilst Pep Guardiola could be disappointed with the performance of his team, he will be delighted with yet another victory. The Citizens will be clear favourites to progress in a fortnight’s time but they were certainly given a huge test by Johnson’s gutsy Bristol City side.
Manchester City: Bravo (6); Danilo (6), Stones (5), Mangala (5), Zinchenko (6) (Walker (N/A), 79′); Gündoğan (6), Touré (5) (Agüero (7), 70′), B. Silva (5); De Bruyne (8), Sané (6), Sterling (7).
Bristol City: Fielding (8); Wright (6), Flint (7), Baker (7), Magnusson (7) (Walsh (6), 72′); Brownhill (7), Pack (7), Smith (7), Bryan (6); Paterson (6), Reid (7).
Goals: Reid PEN (44′), De Bruyne (55′), Agüero (90+2′)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Yellow Cards: Flint (56′), Smith (58′), Bryan (60′)
Red Cards: N/A
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