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Sergio Agüero rides to Manchester City’s rescue against Bristol City

Sergio Agüero rises in stoppage-time to give Manchester City the edge after a pulsating first leg. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Sergio Agüero rides to Manchester City’s rescue against Bristol City

Manchester City had to fight throughout this semi-final first leg as they will surely have to do in the return game. That is in a fortnight and for Bristol City still to have a chance of reaching Wembley shows how fine a display this was.

Sergio Agüero may have broken the visitors’ hearts with his added-time headed winner but, given the talent at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, Lee Johnson and his players can feel rightly proud at losing by only the odd goal.

As Aden Flint, the Bristol City centre-back, said: “We are disappointed to concede late on but we can hold our heads high. We’ve taken probably the best team in the world almost all the way.”

Guardiola selected a strong side. Agüero and Fernandinho dropped to the bench while Nicolás Otamendi and David Silva were not in the 18. Yet Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Ilkay Gündogan, Leroy Sané and the club’s joint-top scorer Raheem Sterling, who has 18 goals this season, were included.

Johnson made one change from Bristol City’s last league game, Frank Fielding replacing Luke Steele as goalkeeper. This was their sixth tie in the competition, against their fifth Premier League opponents, the Robins having already dispatched Watford, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

There were 7,680 travelling fans – a record at the venue – and they watched the home side come at their end almost instantly from kick-off. In Agüero’s absence Guardiola asked Sterling to operate at centre-forward, The 23-year-old’s pace was evident when De Bruyne turned a ball round the corner into his path from behind halfway.

The contest flowed, with the visitors growing more confident. When De Bruyne swivelled near halfway he ran straight into Joe Bryan. Suddenly the home side were back-pedalling, the left winger racing to the penalty area’s edge before drawing a save from Claudio Bravo, the keeper flinging himself to his right.

Johnson’s side, fourth in the Championship, were hardly overawed. Jamie Paterson, the No10, swept a pass to Josh Brownhill on a left-right diagonal. Oleksandr Zinchenko stamped on his toes and Anthony Taylor gave a free-kick. If this was a warning for City, they continued to pose their own threats on Fielding’s goal.

John Stones brings down Bobby Reid for the penalty that the Bristol City forward scored to put the Championship high fliers ahead. Photograph: Dave Thompsom/AP

De Bruyne hit a first-time pass into Sané and the German raced on and slid the ball along the line but it was scrambled clear. Sané and Bernardo Silva were Guardiola’s brightest performers, the Portuguese’s touch and force illustrating his club’s strength in depth as the former Monaco man is not yet a first choice for his manager.

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Source : Theguardian
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