Carabao Cup: Bristol City stun Man Utd to reach the semi-finals
Championship side knock out the holders with injury-time winner
Bristol City 2 Manchester United 1
Korey Smith kept his cool to stun Manchester United and send the holders crashing out of the Carabao Cup at Ashton Gate yesterday.
Smith, a £350,000 signing from Oldham Athletic, ran onto a pass from Matty Taylor, controlled it with his chest, turned and fired a low shot past Sergio Romero into the visitors’ net.
Cue pandemonium. The City fans went wild, so did the players, and the celebrations really got going a few moments later when referee Mike Dean called time on the quarter-final clash.
It was the first time that City and United had met since 1980 and the Robins’ reward for reaching the semi-final (the first time since 1989 that they have advanced so far in this competition) is a semi-final against Manchester City next month.
“That goal will live in the memory for many generations,” said Lee Johnson, the Bristol City manager.
“It’s nights like this that we dream of. It’s Roy of the Rovers stuff. To beat Manchester United at home is incredible and I’m so proud of the players, they are a special group, and for the supporters as it’s been a long time for a result like that, especially here. I’m chuffed to bits.”
Johnson admitted that he went slightly wild at Smith’s goal, haring down the touchline and hugging the first person he found – a bemused ballboy.
“I didn’t know what to do!” he told reporters. “Laugh, cry, cuddle each other, no one knew. I was going to run on the pitch, then realised I couldn’t. So it was great to see him [the ball boy]. I needed to celebrate with someone.”
The churlish would point out that United fielded a vastly different team to the one that beat West Brom in the Premier League at the weekend, but it was still a side that contained world-class performers such as Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It was the latter, making his first appearance for United since his knee injury in April, who scored the equaliser, his free-kick levelling Joe Bryan’s stunning left-foot strike of a few minutes earlier.
One apiece was how it remained until the 93rd minute and the goal that will go down in history in the south-west of England.
United manager Jose Mourinho spent 15 minutes before kick-off in conversation with Johnson, offering managerial advice to the ambitious young coach, but he was less generous in his post-match analysis.
“They were a bit lucky,” he said. “Everyone was waiting for our goal so they were lucky. We hit the post twice.”
Nonetheless, Mourinho admitted that City had been good value for their win, remarking: “They played brilliantly, they fought like it was the game of their lives which probably it was. A beautiful day for football.”
It was indeed a beautiful day for the sport and a boost for the Carabao Cup, adding some excitement to a competition that now has City playing Manchester City in one semi-final and Chelsea facing Arsenal in the other tie.
The Blues beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, although they also required a stoppage time goal to progress.
Willian opened the scoring on 13 minutes but the visitors levelled on 90 minutes through Dan Gosling. As extra-time loomed, up popped Alvaro Morata to score a late winner for Chelsea.
“We had a great reaction,” said Blues boss Antonio Conte. “It’s not simple to concede a goal in the last minute of the game. When you have this reaction, it means you have players with great character and heart.”
Carabao Cup semi-final draw
- Chelsea vs. Arsenal
- Manchester City vs. Bristol City