Manchester City take a 2-1 advantage to Ashton Gate after their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg courtesy of a last gasp header from Sergio Aguero. Lee Johnson’s men pushed the Blues throughout the match, taking the lead in the first half through Bobby Reid’s penalty.
Bristol City were well deserving of their lead but that didn’t stop Kevin De Bruyne instigating an attack through the middle and getting on the end of Raheem Sterling’s ball to level the game. A scrappy affair ensued from then out, with both sides battling for dominance, but City had enough class left in their locker for Aguero to give the Blues a lead heading into the second leg. Here’s what I learned:
Zinchenko has a very bright future
The City youngster, snapped up from FC Ufa, has been on the fringes of Guardiola’s first team all season and has had to rely on sporadic calls to play at left-back for less than significant matches. However, we can now see that the Ukrainian is taking to his new role like a duck to water. All night long, Zinchenko didn’t set a foot wrong – keeping Josh Brownhill largely under his control and contributing when given the chance to roam forward. He is a natural attacking midfielder, taken out of his comfort zone, yet often imitated a natural left-back flawlessly tonight. You definitely couldn’t tell he was out of position.
Eliaquim Mangala is susceptible to any form of pressure
Just when we thought that everyone’s favourite scapegoat redeemed his poor form during his exploits in the latest Manchester derby, Mangala showcased a montage of just how inept and unreliable he really can be. After gifting the ball away which led to City conceding a first half penalty, it didn’t get any better. His sloppy back passes, clumsily kicking balls out for throw-ins and having no real comfort when faced with any pressure highlights the obvious debate that Pep needs central defensive re-enforcement this transfer window.
Ashton Gate will be one of the toughest venues of the season
The Blues have rolled over some of the Premier League’s best sides so far this season: Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs have all been fought and thrown aside in City’s bid for title glory. What we didn’t anticipate, even as a superstitiously negative fan base, is the extraordinary spirit and resilience shown by Bristol City at the Etihad. The Robins pressed us high, chased down the ball and displayed attacking intent away to a side that is currently 15 points clear at the top of the English summit. At home, with the roaring atmosphere of an ecstatic Ashton Gate crowd, the task for City can only be more challenging.
Sergio Aguero can always be relied upon for a moment of magic
Much has been made of the debate surrounding Sergio Aguero’s dip in form in front of goal this season, with convincing evidence that the Argentine isn’t as suited to lead the line in a Guardiola type team as Gabriel Jesus. Aguero has been argued to look a shadow of his former self, lacking confidence and not offering the extra yard he has done in the past. It’s clear that there is weight to this argument considering he could have had even more goals this season than he’s currently tallied (19). But one thing that certainly cannot be discussed is the 29-year-old’s tenacity for producing a crucial moment of magic. Aguero’s legs may arguably be going, but his intent hasn’t faded in the slightest.