For the second year running, Manchester City needed a penalty shootout to beat Leicester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals but again they delivered in a tense situation.
A delicious strike by Kevin De Bruyne had City on course for victory in normal time, but substitute Marc Albrighton tied things up and it went to penalties. Young Aro Muric stepped up, saving several spot kicks, before Oleksandr Zinchenko scored the decisive penalty to send City into the semi-finals… again!
It wasn’t a great performance by a much-changed Blues side overall, but job done. Here’s how we rated the team tonight.
Aro Muric – 7.5
Pulled off a very good save from Demarai Gray in the first half, although the shot may have been going wide but he had to make sure. Then came his big chance to follow in the footsteps of League Cup heroes Willy Caballero and Claudio Bravo… and he did! To be honest, the saves weren’t too difficult, but he kept two of Leicester’s penalties out and helped ensure the Blues progressed.
Kyle Walker – 6
A typical Walker performance of late – some good, some not so good. The pacy Gray gave Walker some problems but he did a commendable job against the Leicester winger who looks a handful.
Nicolas Otamendi – 7
Despite some glimpses of the Otamendi we prefer confined to the past, Nico had a very solid game at the back. Oh, and he was actually credited with an assist for De Bruyne’s goal!
Eric Garcia – 7
The 17-year-old from Barcelona was super-impressive in pre-season, but how would he fare in a competitive game? The answer is good. There were moments of nervousness and hesitancy early on from Garcia, but generally he was classy and composed, making a good impression before the watchful eyes of Pep Guardiola. City are absolutely loaded with centre-back talents right now and Garcia, who made 4 clearances – more than any other City player – looks another great youth prospect.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 5.5
We’re bumping his rating up because he scored the decisive penalty, but in regular time his defensive flaws were exposed and he was caught out for Albrighton’s goal. Teams are now starting to target City’s weak left-back area, which is missing Mendy, himself not the greatest defender but at least a natural in the role. Zinchenko is a good talent going forward and linking up with the team, but as a defender… not so much.
John Stones – 7
Again deployed as a makeshift holding midfielder, Stones did well today. He was composed as he usually is as a centre-back (but was less so as a right-back against Hoffenheim) and held on to the ball well. The only player on the pitch to make over 100 passes tonight.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7.5
Still not 100 per cent, but doesn’t need to be in order to be a standout performer. De Bruyne brought the game to life after a dull start with a sublime finish and worked hard throughout, not just on the attacking front, but also defensively – at one point being alert enough to snuff out a clever quick Leicester free kick.
Phil Foden – 7
He’s a delightful player to watch, even though you know there is much more to come from him. He glides so smoothly across the pitch with elegance, and his passing is of a very high level. A stat that may surprise you: Phil made more successful tackles than any other City player today, a sign of how hard he works and presses.
Riyad Mahrez – 5
Showed absolutely nothing against his former club except one moment when he played through Aguero, who should have done more with a good opportunity. A disappointing return to the King Power for Leicester’s former title hero.
Brahim Diaz – 5
He’s very direct and has enough potential that Real Madrid are working to sign him, but Brahim is very raw and lacking experience, meaning he loses the ball a lot and his decision-making isn’t what it will be in a few years. Didn’t impress like he did in the previous round.
Sergio Aguero – 5.5
Just back from injury, City’s Argentine hero looked rusty and also showed very little. Had a great chance to score, but Danny Ward denied him. The minutes in his legs will contribute to better performances in the weeks ahead.
Raheem Sterling – 5
Disappointing and ineffective when he came on, surprising given his recent form. As for his attempt at a Panenka in the shootout, the less said the better…
Ilkay Gundogan – 5
His passing was really off after he replaced De Bruyne, and he also didn’t play up to his recent standards.
Gabriel Jesus – N/A
A late replacement for the tiring Aguero and bagged in the shootout.