League Cup SF: City v Bristol
League Cup SF: City v Bristol

Aussie Wright’s brave Bristol stun City in two-leg semi

FOOTBALL: Socceroos defender Bailey Wright's brave Championship side take an away goal home with them for the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final after a gallant 2-1 loss to Manchester City, which required a stoppage-time winner from Sergio Aguero.

Bristol City, fourth in the Championship, took a shock 1-0 lead into half-time against the runaway Premier League leaders after Bobby Reid's first-half penalty.

Where plenty of PL sides have cowered at Etihad Stadium, Bristol City took it to Pep Guardiola's side, and that high energy exposed Eliaquim Mangala near halfway, who was robbed of possession before John Stones' rash scrambling challenge in the box.

City had to rally to get back into the tie, and eventually showed their class with Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero bailing the side out.

 

Bristol City's English striker Bobby Reid (2nd R) celebrates with teammates.
Bristol City's English striker Bobby Reid (2nd R) celebrates with teammates.

Aguero's winner, his 19th goal of the season, came in stoppage time, after a quality ball from Bernardo Silva, while De Bruyne's equaliser stemmed from a superb pass from Claudio Bravo in goal, before a swift raid downfield.

Despite losing, Bristol are right in the tie heading home to Ashton Road looking to add City's scalp to Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Watford in this giant-killing run.

It will be some atmosphere, after 8000 travelling fans - the highest away attendance at the Etihad Stadum in its 15-year history - made it a memorable night away from home.

"We've always had belief, we've knocked out four good sides (to get here)," Wright said.

Bristol City's Australian defender Bailey Wright (R) vies with Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne
Bristol City's Australian defender Bailey Wright (R) vies with Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne

"If that doesn't give you belief, I don't know what does. And after that performance, we have more belief.

"I thought we were very good tonight, they're a world-class team and we took the game to them. I thought we'd done enough but at the end but switched off a bit.

"We'll take a lot of confidence from that."

Bristol boss Lee Johnson wouldn't let the late goal crush his praise for his players after that gallant display.

"I thought we were amazing as a football club. A lot of Premier League teams came here and didn't compete like we did," he said.

"Gut wrenching to concede in the last minute, so much of our play was good and the players will learn from that experience."

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) consoles Bristol City's English manager Lee Johnson
Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) consoles Bristol City's English manager Lee Johnson

Guardiola heaped praise on the second-tier rivals, labelling the game one of the hardest his team has played this season.

"The Championship is probably the hardest second division in the world. That's why there are a lot of surprises and problems to other teams in the cup competitions," the Manchester City boss said. 

Manchester City went close to breaking the deadlock on the quarter-hour mark when a flowing move concluded with Bernardo Silva's goal-bound shot taking a deflection off a Bristol City defender.

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City reacts after a miss.
Raheem Sterling of Manchester City reacts after a miss.

The visitors, though, were not in the least intimidated and went close themselves immediately afterwards, Claudio Bravo saving Joe Bryan's long-range shot.

Bristol City - appearing in their first major semi-final in 29 years - were more than holding their own but a poor clearance saw De Bruyne force a good one-handed save from Frank Fielding as the hosts pressed for the opener.

The hosts turned the screw as the half progressed forcing a series of corners but without the end reward.

Manchester City's German midfielder Leroy Sane (R) vies with Bristol City's Australian defender Bailey Wright
Manchester City's German midfielder Leroy Sane (R) vies with Bristol City's Australian defender Bailey Wright

However, it was Manchester City who cracked in the 43rd minute as the shaky Eliaquim Mangala was dispossessed and John Stones made a rash challenge on Reid to concede a penalty.

Reid dusted himself off and although Bravo guessed the right way and got his fingers to the penalty, he was unable to prevent it going into the net for the scorer's 14th goal of the season.

Aden Flint ensured the Championship side went into the break 1-0 up when he produced a superb header to clear over his own bar as Raheem Sterling's shot looked destined to bring the sides level.

Bristol City's English midfielder Jamie Paterson reacts after they concede
Bristol City's English midfielder Jamie Paterson reacts after they concede

However, there was nothing the visitors could do about the equaliser in the 55th minute.

De Bruyne surged forward playing it to Sterling who laid it back to him and the Belgian rifled the ball into the net to provoke a sigh of relief from players and home fans alike.

Guardiola decided to send on his only out-and-out striker Aguero for Yaya Toure with 20 minutes remaining and the club's record goalscorer did not disappoint, firing in the winner for a barely deserved victory.


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