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Bristol City 2-3 Manchester City (3-5 on aggregate): 5 Talking Points

Manche
Manchester City beat Bristol City to become the first finalists in the Carabao Cup
Aakanksh Sanketh
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Final scoreline: Bristol City 2-3 Manchester City (3-5 on aggregate)

Goal scorers: Leroy Sane 43' (Man City), Sergio Aguero 49' (Man City), Marlon Pack 64'(Bristol), Aden Flint 94' (Bristol), Kevin De Bruyne 96' (Man City)

Premier League leaders Manchester City travelled to Ashton Gate, the home of Bristol City F.C. for their second-leg semi-final clash of the Carabao Cup. With a first-leg lead of 2-1, and the advantage clearly in their favour, Manchester City characteristically dominated the game, before fighting off a late resurgence in the second half.

Leroy Sane gave the visitors the lead in the 43rd minute, before Sergio Aguero doubled it just 6 minutes later. Marlon Pack gave the hosts a consolatory goal in the 64th, before Aden Flint added meaning to it in the 94th.

Kevin De Bruyne (had to be him, didn't it?) then took matters into his own hands as he buried City's 3rd of the night with the very last kick of the game, to propel the Citizens into the finals of the Carabao Cup, with an aggregate win of 5-3 over Championship side Bristol City.

On that note, here's a look at 5 key talking points from an intense semi-final second-leg clash:


#5 Full-strength Manchester City back to their marauding best

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City's big guns stepped up as usual

Against Championship side Bristol City, Pep Guardiola chose not to underestimate his opponents and fielded, contrary to what many expected, a full strength side - one fully equipped to tear into, rip apart and subsequently bury any side, let alone one that's not quite at their level.

Raheem Sterling made way for Bernardo Silva, who was accompanied by Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero up top. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, City's two genius midfield virtuosos, were at their rampant selves, complementing Fernandinho's towering presence in midfield.

Expectedly, the visitors showcased an "in it to win it" mentality, as all guns did indeed blaze. Sane, De Bruyne and Aguero made their way to the scoresheet, while Bernardo Silva, Sane and De Bruyne picked up an assist apiece.

Unlike a number of other big teams, City clearly don't rely on just one or two players, and always seem to have at least 3-4 of their players at the top of their respective games, and it is for that very reason, that they have been as indomitable as they have.

#4 Bristol's inspired run comes to an end but not without a fight

Lee Jo
Lee Johnson's side put in a good performance, but they couldn't match Pep's mighty City

At the start of the tournament, not many would've placed their best on 5th-placed Championship side Bristol City making it to the finals of the Carabao Cup, let alone score 3 goals across two legs against Manchester City - a team that seems to be, by far, the best in the land.

Never mind public opinion. Against the odds, they rose. The Robins, as they're nicknamed, took off against the gale and gracefully held their own.

In the first round, they took on third-tier side Plymouth Argyle and mercilessly dispatched them with a 5-0 scoreline. Next, they took on Premier League side Watford, and breezed past them 2-1.

They then convincingly beat other Premier League sides like Stoke City(2-0) and Crystal Palace (4-1), before bringing English giants Manchester United down to their knees, with a stunning 2-1 victory over the Red Devils in the quarterfinals.

The Robins have unquestionably impressed and made their mark, having beaten 4 teams from an entire tier above their level, including one that is, undeniably, the biggest in the country in terms of sustained excellence, and silverware, of course.

Bristol City punched above their weight, and they punched hard. However, when push came to shove, Premier League leaders Manchester City proved to be just too much for the Championship side to handle, although, even against Goliath, Bristol City managed to ship 3 goals.

The side from Ashton Gate may have been put down, but they sure didn't go down quietly.

#3 Sergio Aguero is making the most of Gabriel Jesus' absence

Making
Making hay while the sun shines

Throughout the season, Pep Guardiola has alternated between his two strikers - Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, with some fans initially claiming that the Spanish tactician had begun to favour Jesus over Aguero.

In fact, the last time Sergio Aguero played 3 full Premier League games in a row, was back in September 2017. However, ever since Gabriel Jesus was tragically injured during City's game against Crystal Palace, Sergio Aguero has had an uncontested share of the spotlight, and boy, has he made the most of it!

The game that saw Jesus being sidelined for over a month - against Palace - was on December 31st. Since then, City have played a total of 6 games (3 in the Premier League, 2 legs against Bristol City in the Carabao Cup, and 1 against Burnley in the FA Cup).

Notably, Aguero has featured in all 6 of those games, starting 5 and coming on as a substitute in the 6th.

The Argentine's 3 league starts were against Watford, Liverpool and Newcastle, from which he amassed a total of 4 goals and 1 assist. In City's 4-1 win against Burnley in the FA Cup, Aguero scored 2 important goals.

Over the two legs against Bristol City in the Carabao Cup, Aguero played for a total of about 110 minutes, and scored 2 more goals (1 in the first-leg and 1 in the second-leg).

That's an impressive combined total of 8 goals and 1 assist in his last 6 outings for Sergio Aguero. Further, with Jesus expected to return only in February, Kun is bound to make the most of the next few games and inadvertently exacerbate Guardiola's selection headache.

#2 Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane are in the form of their lives

Unstoppab
Unstoppable

Manchester City have dominated this season from the get-go, and have looked like a top-notch force throughout the entirety of the season so far. Barring one defeat in the Premier League - to Liverpool - and one defeat in the UEFA Champions League - to Shakhtar Donetsk, in the group stages - the Citizens have run other teams ragged most often than not.

While this mighty run has undoubtedly been all all-round team effort, the duo of Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane, in specific, have been a key reason behind City's creative excellence.

Germane speedster Leroy Sane has accrued a total of 11 goals and 14 assists across all competitions, while Belgian teammate Kevin De Bruyne has amassed 9 goals and 14 assists. What's astonishing, is that no other Premier League player has provided more assists, meaning that #1 and #2 on the assists chart belongs to City.

Last night, the duo struck again with a goal and assist apiece, as Sane first gave City the lead, and then assisted Kevin De Bruyne's last-minute goal. Meanwhile, the Belgian scored the last goal, and also assisted Sergio Aguero, who scored City's 2nd goal of the night.

If the duo, and the team continue this way, you can definitely expect a number of records to tumble, as the rest of the world holds its breath in anticipation of just how many titles the Citizens manage to win by the end of the season.

#1 First final for Pep Guardiola

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The Carabao Cup final will be Pep Guardiola's first final in charge of Manchester City

Pep Guardiola almost seems to be pulling off a Jose Mourinho - with a spectacular second season to back an ordinary first. Last night's victory against Bristol City helped City qualify for the finals of the Carabao Cup - the first time the Citizens have become finalists with Pep at the helm.

Last season, the blue side of Manchester dealt with a rather disappointing season, in terms of silverware. They finished 3rd in the league - behind Chelsea and Spurs, and were knocked out by Arsenal in the semis of the FA Cup.

The EFL Cup provided no relief either, last season, as City were dumped out in the 4th round, by eventual champions - Manchester United. In the UEFA Champions League, the Citizens were shown the door at the round of 16 stage by Monaco, empowered by the away goal rule.

This season, on the other hand, promises to be different, with City literally fighting for silverware on all fronts. The league looks like it's theirs to lose, and the FA Cup is still ripe for the taking.

Additionally, City, thanks to their insuppressible form this season, are also being hailed as favourites to lift the most-coveted UEFA Champions League title - something Pep Guardiola and Manchester City will certainly be eyeing.

For now, though, the blue side of Manchester will have to take on either Arsenal or Chelsea in the finals of the Carabao Cup, slated to be played at the end of next month. While Guardiola will want nothing short of a win, it will be his first final in charge of an English club and it's bound to keep him on the edge.

Edited by Amit Mishra
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