Manchester City edged past United on the League Cup semi-final despite losing 1-0 on the night. A solitary goal by Nemanja Matic ten minutes before half time, wasn’t enough to prevent the blues from making a third League Cup final appearance on the trot, but it was enough to leave blues fans biting their nails towards the end.
The task was very simple – just don’t lose to a reds team that has already beaten City at the Etihad already this season, but City made heavy, often laboured work of the second leg, but they go through to face Aston Villa on March 1st.
Matic struck on 35 minutes after City failed to fully clear a free kick and Matic powerfully hit the ball beyond Claudio Bravo.
City had their chances to equalise though. An out of sorts Raheem Sterling had a goal disallowed for a clear offside and also blasted over the bar when it would have been easier to score. David Silva also missed an opportunity to get a shoot in the second half, but instead chose to square to Ilkay Gundogan, much to manager Pep Guardiola’s frustration, while Sergio Aguero also had the ball in the net, only for that to be ruled offside too.
A nervy second half was made worse as Bravo denied Anthony Martial from grabbing a tie-levelling second goal, but the blues just couldn’t find a way past the reds defence, leaving the fans thinking this was going to be another one of ‘those days,’ where they snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.
But when Matic was sent off 14minutes from time, it allowed the blues a little breathing space. City went out at this stage ten years ago to United thanks to a last minute winner from Wayne Rooney, but thankfully, there were no such heroics this time around.
“Over 180 minutes we were better than United,” said relieved Guardiola after the match. “We created chances to score a lot of goals and didn’t convert. We need to learn to be more clinical. We played a side with incredible physicality. The goal was from a set-piece. The first time they shot on target. In both games, we were better.”
The reason why City can’t seem to beat United at home is unclear – the blues have won just one meeting in East Manchester since Guardiola took charge, and it was just as well that the blues scored three at Old Trafford two weeks ago to effectively win the tie.
Final Score: Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United (City win 3-2 on aggregate).