Bristol City aren't beaten yet, boss warns Manchester City
Manchester City 2-1 Bristol City
Bristol City manager Lee Johnson struck a defiant note after seeing his minnows defeated 2-1 late on by Manchester City in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, insisting that the tie is not over for the Championship promotion contenders.
Bristol took a surprise lead at the Etihad through Bobby Reid's penalty on the cusp of half-time.
City reasserted themselves after the break and soon levelled through Kevin de Bruyne but failed to break down Johnson's resolute defence again until stoppage time, when Sergio Aguero rose to head home a winner.
"I'm very proud of my team, disappointed with the goal late on but I thought the boys were magnificent. Very, very proud of the club today," he said. "It's only half-time but we're still in this tie.
"We rode our luck but the pressing was amazing for the first goal."
Continued o“They can’t be disappointed as we are still in the tie. They have shown the world we are good footballers.”
Johnson shared a word with his counterpart Pep Guardiola after the final whistle and revealed that the City manager was impressed with how the visitors had performed.
“Pep Guardiola said to me that we played better than most of the Premier League teams that come to Man City,” Johnson revealed. “We will take an awful lot from it and learn a lot. It is not over. It will be an interesting game at Ashton Gate.
“The away goal was very important. We tried to score and certainly didn’t park the bus. The lads have to go home and think we can kick on form this performance.”
City boss Guardiola was eager to give credit to Bristol’s battlers.
Guardiola said: “It was a nice game, beautiful game, and all my credit to Bristol City.
“We knew that (it would be a tough game) because you cannot knock out four teams from the Premier League without (being) well organised and having nice players to watch.”
When asked what he had said to opposite number Lee Johnson at the end of the game, Guardiola said: “Big congratulations. He came here to try to play.
“They arrived, they created chances. They are up in the Championship (Johnson’s side are fourth), and I have a lot of respect for what they have done.”
While the hosts certainly did not produce one of their finest performances, Guardiola was also keen to laud the way they reacted to the setback of falling behind.
“It is fantastic. I am a lucky guy to train the players I have,” he said.
“Always semi-finals are tough, and 1-0 down, how we reacted in that situation... I don’t know what is going to happen at the end of the season, but my respect for these professionals, with this amazing schedule - every single game, they do absolutely everything that they have.
“I think Manchester City fans here and around the world have to be so proud. Because it is so complicated what they have done - to, mentally, every day stay there, and we did it again.”
Guardiola’s men also came back from 1-0 down at half-time to win on Saturday as they defeated Burnley 4-1 in the FA Cup, and he added: “Without that spirit you can’t win trophies in any competition. We try and try and try until the last minute.”