League Cup, leg 1: Man City come back to lead Bristol City

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester City’s pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple was threatened on Tuesday, but ultimately Pep Guardiola‘s side secured a 2-1 home victory over Championship side Bristol City in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals.

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There remains, of course, another 90 minutes for Bristol to complete the Manchester sweep in the second leg in two weeks’ time, on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Still, to see the runaway Premier League leaders not only fall behind, but to also be marginally outplayed for sizable portions of the first half, was certainly unexpected.

All of the Robins’ hard work was rewarded just before halftime, when John Stones went straight through Bobby Reid as the Bristol forward surged into the penalty area and appeared to be in on goal. Reid stepped up to the spot and beat Claudio Bravo, who played the role of penalty-shootout hero for City in each of the last two rounds. The scoreline, 1-0 at halftime, wouldn’t last long.

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Bristol’s lead was so nearly erased just a minute later, as Raheem Sterling got in behind and chipped the on-rushing goalkeeper with deft precision, only to be denied by Aden Flint’s dramatically desperate, leaping header just inches over the crossbar.

Regardless, the advantage was negated 10 minutes into the second half, when Kevin De Bruyne smashed home after pulling off a quick one-two with Sterling. The two sides looked destined to finish the first leg level at 1-1, but City’s purveyor of late, winning goals lived up to his legend once more.

Sergio Aguero got his head on the end of Bernardo Silva‘s cross into the box, just as goalkeeper Frank Fielding lunged forward with an outstretched fist, but the Argentine was first to the spot and headed home to snatch victory from the jaws of a stalemate.