Quadruple-chasing Man City through to League Cup final
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 24, 2018 07:37 AM
FILE - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola applauds at the end of the English FA Cup semifinal soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, April 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
BRISTOL, England (AP) — Pep Guardiola reached his first final in English soccer as Manchester City ended second-tier Bristol City's memorable run in the League Cup on Tuesday to stay in contention for silverware on four fronts.
Man City won the second leg of their semifinal 3-2, with Kevin De Bruyne scoring off the last kick of the game, to advance to the Feb. 26 final at Wembley Stadium 5-3 on aggregate.
Chelsea and Arsenal are locked at 0-0 heading into the second leg of the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Top of the Premier League by 12 points and still in the Champions League and FA Cup, Man City is proving an unstoppable force but needs trophies to back up its exhilarating displays in the first five months of the season.
"Of course, I know that we will be judged by trophies we win," said Guardiola, who didn't win any silverware last season, his first at Man City. "But we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done."
Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero scored in a seven-minute span around halftime to build on Man City's 2-1 lead from the first leg at Etihad Stadium two weeks ago.
Marlon Pack reduced the deficit in the 64th minute and even though Aden Flint equalized in the fourth minute of stoppage time, there was no way Bristol City was about to add the Premier League leaders to its list of top-flight scalps that already included Manchester United, Watford, Stoke, and Crystal Palace in this campaign.
"They are a top, top side, probably the best team I've seen live," Bristol City manager Lee Johnson said. "But the spirit we showed, we never gave in. Not many score two goals against a team like that."
Bristol City was attempting to become the first team since Sheffield Wednesday in 1991 to win the League Cup from outside the top flight. Around 180 journalists, broadcasters, and photographers were at Ashton Gate, the club said, for a game being watched in more than 100 countries, putting the second-tier host in the global spotlight.
Having needed a late goal from Aguero to earn a first-leg advantage, Man City paid its opponent a compliment by fielding close to a full-strength team for the return match despite being in the middle of a busy period of domestic fixtures.
Bristol City bravely tried to press Guardiola's team all over the field, and was starting to frustrate the Premier League side when Sane struck in the 43rd minute.
Hordur Magnusson tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but Bernardo Silva battled to regain possession on the byline. He bundled the ball back to Sane, whose first-time shot with his right foot deflected into the net.
Fresh off a hat trick against Newcastle in the league at the weekend, Aguero put the match out of reach of Bristol City in the 50th with a clinical finish at the end of a counterattack.
De Bruyne was set free by Sane and the midfielder cut inside and curled a pinpoint pass forward to Aguero. The Argentina striker took one touch and buried a low, angled shot across goalkeeper Luke Steele.
City wobbled at the back to concede twice but De Bruyne stroked in Sane's cross for the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Man City is through to a third League Cup final in the last five years, having also won's England's second-tier cup competition in 2014 and '16.
"They call it the littlest trophy of the year, but everything you can take you will take," De Bruyne said. "We've had a good season so far but now the big games are coming and hopefully we can keep up the intensity and the quality."
Guardiola won European Cup finals at Wembley as a player with Barcelona in 1992 and as a coach with the same Spanish team in 2011. He has won nine of his 10 finals as a coach from his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.