Manchester City are through to the semi-finals of the NOT CARABAO CUP, IT’S LEAGUE CUP thanks to a hard-fough victory on penalties over Leicester City at the King Power. Pep Guardiola made a lot of changes to his usual team and the Blues had problems against a dangerous Leicester side, but eventually prevailed and are now part of the Final Four.
Despite having a heavily rotated side, the Blues dominated the entire half with the same control of possession and attacking creativity we see from the usual starters. Phil Foden and Brahim Díaz were wreaking havoc on the left wing while Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan did the same on the right.
There weren’t many chances created, but City were clinical and scored the opener on a great counter attack that started with a tackle from Eliaquim Mangala and ended with a perfect assist from Gundogan to Bernardo.
After conceding, Leicester began to go forward looking to make things tough and were very dangerous through Kelechi Iheanacho, who nearly equalized against his former club but was stopped by a very alert Claudio Bravo. The Chilean made some very good interventions near the end of the half, and made sure the Blues had the lead going into halftime.
The Foxes were clearly not giving up on the game just yet and Claude Puel brought Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy off the bench to try and find an equalizer. City suffered for quite a while early in the second half and needed some last-ditch efforts to keep Leicester from scoring, but slowly the Blues managed to get more control of the game and had a couple of dangerous chances themselves.
But City didn’t score a second, and Leicester increased the pressure even more when Mahrez started to create a lot of problems with his pace and skill. Bravo made a great stop to deny Vardy after a cross from Mahrez, and the Foxes looked closer and closer to a goal as we entered the final 10 minutes.
City looked set to win the game, but then Bobby Madley happened. First, the referee added EIGHT MINUTES of stoppage time with no reason at all, and then he absolutely made up a penalty when Demarai Gray took a dive inside the box. Jamie Vardy buried the spot kick in the 97th minute and sent the game to extra time.
Leicester had a clear plan for extra time: defend deep inside their half and try to get a goal on the counter. City had all of the ball and tried to find spaces inside the Foxes’ backline, but their best chance came from a Yaya Touré free kick that Hamer was able to stop. That was the final play of the first half of extra time, and City really wanted a goal to avoid going to penalties.
The second half was just like the first, with the players from both sides absolutely exhausted and just waiting for the penalties. And that’s what we got.
Both teams were perfect until Leicester’s biggest stars, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, stepped up. Vardy hit the post, and Claudio Bravo stopped Mahrez to send City to the semi-finals.
Bravo is the hero again, and the Blues are through!
Considering this was a heavily rotated side, it was a good performance from the team. The first half was a lot better than the second, but Leicester also deserve credit for going for it at the end of the game. Phil Foden was EXCEPTIONAL until he injured his ankle, and Oleksandr Zinchenko was really impressive at left-back. Tosin Adarabioyo made a name for himself and has certainly earned more playing time.
Now we move on a two-game semi-final in January, and it’s definitely going to be against a Top 6 team. Should be fun.
Man City: Bravo; Danilo, Adarabioyo, Mangala (Walker), Zinchenko; Gundogan, Touré, Foden (Dele-Bashiru); Bernardo, Jesus, Brahim (Nmecha)
Goal: Bernardo (26’)
Leicester: Hamer; Amartey, Dragovic (Benalouane), Maguire, Fuchs; Albrighton (Mahrez), King, Iborra, Chilwell (Gray); Okazaki, Iheanacho (Vardy)
Goal: Vardy (90’+7)