Aguero the hero as City avoid semi-final upset

Patrick Power by Patrick Power @rfutbol - 0 6,173

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Aguero with a late winner. AFP

Aguero the hero as City avoid semi-final upset

Patrick Power by Patrick Power @rfutbol - 0 6,173

Bristol City came close to shocking Manchester City at the Etihad, but a late injury-time winner by Sergio Aguero denied the Championship outfit the chance to get a positive result out of the first leg.

A commendable performance from the visitors saw them heartbroken as Sergio Aguero nodded home in stoppage time to give City a slender advantage for the return fixture. Bristol had worked very hard to get a draw and the result still leaves the tie very much open.

With such displays it is certainly within the realm of possibility that Bristol City will be visiting this stadium as a Premier League equal next season, and a record-breaking 8,000 travelling fans made the trip up north for the clash, making it the largest away following at the Etihad since it opened.

In the Carabao Cup, the Robins are looking to reach their first major final since 1909 and City stood in their way in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final, with the side managed by Lee Johnson looking to go back to Ashton Gate with something to cling onto. An away goal and a feeling that they tested the runaway Premier League leaders will spur them on as they try to replicate the feat that saw them knock out Manchester United.

Having beaten four Premier League sides so far in the competition, Bristol were a constant threat for the hosts, attacking in numbers and compact in defence. While Manchester City overshadowed possession, the rhythm of the game allowed the Championship outfit to create openings on the break.

De Bruyne tried his luck from distance but was twice denied by Fielding, and Bernardo Silva was also granted chances to find the back of the net as he drifted inside from the right flank. Paterson and Bryan attempted to shock the hosts, with the later forcing Claudio Bravo into action with a deflected strike from 20 yards.

The visitors slowly took the game to Guardiola's invincibles by gradually making their way up the field. The game opened up with back-to-back chances at both ends, Pack sending a volley into the arms of Bravo before Gundogan's effort was deflected into the path of Mangala eight yards out but the centre-back could not guide it into the net.

Then, against all odds, the visitors took the lead from the spot. In a move in which the defensive lackings of John Stones and Eliaquim Mangala were brought to the fore, Bobby Reid was floored inside the area and the striker stepped up to find the bottom left corner. From the restart, City were straight up the other end and Sterling beat Fielding with a lobbed finish, but Flint raced back to head over the bar. 

- City dominance paid off -

With the hosts trailing at the break, Guardiola urged his men to push forward from the off, and they found plenty of spaces in the opening stages of the second period. Sterling and Sane proved a menace, but it was De Bruyne who finally drew level after exchanging passes with Sterling and firing past Fielding at the near post.

Bristol took a step back and attempted to hold on for the final whistle, but they had 30 long minutes ahead that required great focus and concentration to keep the hosts at bay. They almost made it, but for a stoppage-time header from Sergio Aguero, who was brought on in the final 20 minutes as Guardiola chased the game.

It was a fine display at the Etihad, with the Championship outfit defending well and committing men forward and the hosts playing some decent passing football at times. All to play for in the second leg as City keep their trophy pursuit open on four fronts.

Patrick Power

Patrick Power

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