Man City qualify into EFL Cup final despite defeat by United
Guardiola says his side need to “learn to be more clinical” after they made difficult work of reaching their third successive Carabao Cup final.
City lost the second leg of their semi-final against United advancing 3-2 on aggregate. Leading 3-1 from the first leg at Old Trafford, the holders pushed forward in search of a goal to put the tie to bed. However, they could find no way past an inspired David de Gea.
Instead, United placed things back in the balance before half-time. Nemanja Matic put the club ahead on the night with their first effort at goal.
The Red Devils had created nothing in open play. But City could only half-clear Fred’s free-kick and Matic swept a powerful first-time strike past Claudio Bravo.
City tried their best to respond after going behind De Gea who had brilliantly denied Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez in the opening minutes. City was finally beaten when Raheem Sterling turned in Kevin de Bruyne’s cross. But the flag was already up for offside.
More United chances followed in the second half. Harry Maguire headed over an Anthony Martial brought in a low save from Bravo. But ultimately the visitors were unable to score a second.
Sterling had a chance to settle his side’s nerves and restore their two-goal cushion. He ran clear in the second half but dallied and eventually skied his shot.
More wastefulness from the home side followed. When the ball broke to substitute David Silva in front of the goal, he chose to square to Ilkay Gundogan rather than shoot.
It was only when Matic was sent off for his second booking. With 14 remaining, City regained any sort of control of the game. They were able to see out the remainder without any further scared to ensure their progress.
Despite the struggle, City is into the final for a third successive year. The club will go for their seventh EFL Cup win then they face Aston Villa in the final on 1st March.
Careless City-room for improvement
It was not only in front of the goal where City was careless, they frequently gave away possession too. They restricted United to only a handful of further chances.
Considering they were 3-0 up before half-time in the first Leg, this was an underwhelming way to progress.
Guardiola who went with a strikerless 4-2-2 system used a 3-2-4-1 formation which gave his side the upper hand early on.
But the longer they went without taking chances, the more hope United had. Off the opportunities wasted by City, Sterling’s was the worst. England forward surely needs to find the net soon to boost his faltering confidence in front of goal.
He had plenty of time to pick his spot when Bruyne sent him galloping clear. However, he chose to cut inside past Lindelof and De Gea. With no time, United already had several defenders back when he finally blazed his shot to the sky.