Belfast Telegraph

Guardiola's aristocrats relishing a shot at silverware

Carabao Cup semi-final: Bristol City 2-3 Man City (Man City win 5-3 on aggregate)

By Phil Blanche

Manchester City kept alive their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple by reaching the Carabao Cup final with a 3-2 win at Bristol City.

Goals from Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne secured a 5-3 aggregate triumph and manager Pep Guardiola's first cup final in English football - at Wembley against either Arsenal or Chelsea on February 25.

Marlon Pack's 64th-minute header and a close-range strike from Aden Flint in stoppage time looked like giving Bristol City a draw on the night, but De Bruyne scored with the final kick of the match.

Playmaker De Bruyne said: "We played a very good game. They had two chances with the long balls and it's a little bit of a shame that they score two times but we were very good.

"We didn't really give them opportunities and in the end we scored in the last minute.

"We came here, we knew the crowd would be up for it but we managed to keep them quiet. We controlled the game very well and especially in the first half they didn't get any chances.

"After the 2-0 they were going to play long balls and in the end I think we deserved to go to Wembley."

City boss Guardiola commented: "We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end.

"This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

"At 2-0 we knew it would be easier because they needed three or four goals but with one minute left it was 2-2 and anything could happen.

"It's not for me, it's for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. We try to keep going, the important thing for me is to be there. We try to keep going in the FA Cup, in the Prenier League.

"I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams."

Bristol City, in their first semi-final of a major cup competition for nearly 30 years, had retained hope of causing an upset after losing the first leg at the Etihad Stadium 2-1.

There was an electric atmosphere inside Ashton Gate at kick-off with over 22,000 flags handed out to home supporters.

But this was a bridge too far for the Sky Bet Championship hosts who had already eliminated four Premier League sides, most notably Manchester United in the quarter-final.

Guardiola's team selection showed he was taking no risks as Kyle Walker, Fernandinho, David Silva and Aguero - none of whom had started the first leg - were all involved from the beginning.

It looked as if Bristol City would reach half-time level on the night but Sane drove home in the 43rd minute.

Within four minutes of the restart the excellent De Bruyne led a charge out and his delicious pass got the finish it deserved as Aguero fired home.

The goal that Ashton Gate craved came after 64 minutes.

Jamie Paterson broke down the left and his cross was met by Pack, whose powerful header gave Claudio Bravo no chance.

Home fans were no doubt dreaming of an improbable comeback, even more so when Flint tapped home.

But De Bruyne ensured Manchester City had the last word.

BRISTOL CITY: Steele, Smith, Flint, Wright, Magnusson (Baker 45), Paterson (Kent 73), Walsh (Diedhiou 45), Brownhill, Pack, Bryan, Reid. Subs not used: Taylor, Engvall, Eliasson, Wollacott.

MAN CITY: Bravo, Walker (Danilo 85), Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D Silva, B Silva, Aguero (Gundogan 82), Sane. Subs not used: Kompany, Sterling, Mangala, Ederson, Toure.

Man of the match: De Bruyne

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Graham Scott

Belfast Telegraph

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