Belfast Telegraph

Bristol City hero hails 'best night' as Championship side shock Manchester United

Bristol City defender Joe Bryan believes self-confidence and belief carried them into the Carabao Cup semi-finals after a last-gasp 2-1 win over Manchester United at Ashton Gate.

Bryan gave City a 51st-minute lead but Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised shortly afterwards. Then, just when extra-time beckoned, Korey Smith was set free by Matty Taylor and smashed home the stoppage-time winner.

Bryan told Sky Sports Football: "We don't go into any game this season we think we're going to lose. I think we're full of confidence and belief in yourself. I think we showed that tonight."

But the 24-year-old full-back can remember little about his second goal in three games.

On trying to recall the goal, he added: "I don't know. Honestly. It just broke and I hit it and it's gone in. I can't remember much until I see it again.

"Since we've (current crop of players) been playing here it's definitely the best night we've had."

Smith was confident he could hurt United if he was just given the service.

He said: "A few times I'd made runs in behind and I wasn't being tracked so I said at half-time to the boys, 'if I make that run look for me and I'll try and get that shot off'.

"Luckily Tayls (Taylor) made a great ball and it's gone in.

"I joined the club when we were in League One. We had three stands and obviously we had a great season. And the next year we were in and around the bottom of the (Championship) table.

"This year we've been absolutely brilliant. The younger players are developing and people are coming into their prime. The stadium now is absolutely amazing. It's nice to give the fans a season they're enjoying so far. 

"To be in the draw with three of the best clubs in the country. Everybody would have expected the top four teams in the country to be in the draw for the semi-final. It's just been unbelievable. Four Premiership teams to get here. It's just absolutely amazing today."

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho felt it was "just another day at the office" for some of his team .

Mourinho said: "They were a bit lucky but they fought a lot to be lucky. They won the game in a moment where we have no possibilities to react. So I have to say they were a bit lucky.

"In the first half we hit the post twice before they scored the first goal but they played brilliantly. They fought like this was the game of their life, which probably it was. I think a beautiful day for football because a team from a lower division won and getting into a semi-final.

"A big day for them and a big day for their supporters so I congratulate to them. I don't want that I say they were a bit lucky to be the main thing of it. They main thing of it is that they won and they fought hard for that.

"In the first half we lacked intensity that they had and when I say intensity I say not just physical I say also mentally. For some of us was just one more day in the office. Probably a day that some of them don't even want to come to the office and for the Bristol boys was a big, big day for them.

"In the second half after their goal we were the best team. We reacted well, the players had their pride. They tried to win the game in the 90 minutes and they were very lucky to have the goal in the last seconds. I don't want the fact that I use the word lucky to be the most important thing. The most important thing is that the Championship team beat a club like Manchester United.

"And for therm a big night and in this club we know how to win and how to lose so we lose saying congratulations to them and good luck for the semi-final."

City were drawn to face Manchester City in the semi-finals but manager Lee Johnson wanted to reflect on the magnitude of victory over the red half of Manchester.

Johnson said: "It's a brilliant draw but first and foremost we've got to get over the overwhelming feeling of feeling proud for the players. They were absolutely outstanding to a man and to beat Manchester United at home is incredible.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet but like I say I'm just so proud, not just of the players but the supporters as well. It's been a long, long time since we've had a result like that, particularly at Ashton Gate, and I'm chuffed. Chuffed to bits."

Johnson was relieved to see Smith pop up late on with the winner to spare his side the added 30 minutes of extra-time.

He added: "It was an unbelievable feeling that's for sure. The turn of pace down the line that hasn't been seen for years. It just felt great. It's a great goal.

"Korey Smith was dying on his feet. The lads didn't want to go into extra time. The lads managed to get it to him in the box and a great little finish.

"And the scenes. The scenes that that set off was unbelievable and that will live in the memory of this football club for many years."

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