Manchester City 0 United 1 (3-2 agg)
Manchester United bowed out of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, but the 10-man Reds put on a brave fight at the Etihad Stadium with a 1-0 victory over Manchester City.
A fine first-half strike from Nemanja Matic, who was later sent off for two bookable offences, gave the Reds hope in the tie, as did some superb goalkeeping from David De Gea, who kept out a host of chances for the Blues in the opening half, but Pep Guardiola's men held on for the 3-2 aggregate victory and it's our local rivals who now progress to meet Aston Villa at Wembley.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made four changes to the side that overcame Tranmere in the FA Cup as the Reds looked to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the first leg. In came De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams and Fred, in place of Sergio Romero, Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones and Andreas Pereira, who were all named on the bench as United again set up with a back three. City made five changes from the side that brushed Fulham aside in the FA Cup with Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Rodri and Kyle Walker returning to the starting line-up.
Just as City had dominated the opening half of the first leg, the Blues also got out of the blocks at top speed at the Etihad Stadium. But, in De Gea, City found a goalkeeper in inspired form.
An Ilkay Gundogan floated pass found Sergio Aguero in the box, on seven minutes, and his diving header was brilliantly tipped away by our Spanish stopper. Seconds later, De Gea was there again, this time saving a deflected shot by Riyad Mahrez superbly with his foot.
The hosts called for a penalty, minutes later, when Raheem Sterling went down under a challenge from Harry Maguire but, rightly, nothing was given, and rightly so, as replays showed both players had fallen over in tandem.
De Gea was at it again, on 17 minutes, when he threw a hand at Aguero’s angled shot after a neat one-two with Sterling. The England international found himself through on goal on the half-hour mark but Maguire got a foot in brilliantly to divert the ball out of play.
Up to that point, bar the odd positive burst forward from the Reds, it had been all City, but it was the Reds who made the first-half breakthrough on 35 minutes. A Fred free-kick from the left was only half cleared and the loose ball dropped to Matic who smashed it home superbly, low into the corner, to ensure it was game-on.
Before the break, City had a goal from Sterling correctly chalked off for offside, before De Gea raced out of his area to divert a short Victor Lindelof backpass away from danger in the nick of time, as Aguero looked to pounce.
Daniel James was introduced at the start of the second half and it was a free-kick he earned on 49 minutes which almost led to a second goal for the Reds. Unfortunately, Maguire was unable to keep his header down, to add to his maiden United goal at Tranmere last weekend, when he rose to meet Fred’s right-wing cross.
United maintained the pressing but it was the hosts who had the next opening. Sterling powered forward into the box and skipped past the on-rushing De Gea as well as a couple of defenders, but, with the goal gaping, he blasted over.
Not long after, Martial did the same from a tight angle before the action continued at the other end as City looked to find an equaliser on the night.
Kyle Walker stung the palms of De Gea with a thunderous 25-yard shot, before Maguire lost possession in the box and the ball dropped to City substitute David Silva who had just De Gea to beat, but he opted to pass to Gundogan allowing Maguire to atone for his error.
You couldn’t take your eyes off the action and, on 76 minutes, there was another twist as Matic received his marching orders for a second yellow card after a trip on Gundogan.
Another City goal was wiped off before the end for offside against Aguero, who clipped clinically beyond De Gea, before Fred fired a free-kick into the wall from a hugely promising position, when Maguire had been clattered by Nicolas Otamendi. Those were the last of the chances for either side as the Reds ran out winners on the night, but, sadly, not in the tie.
City: Bravo, Walker, Rodri, Otamendi, Cancelo, Gundogan, Mahrez (D Silva 67), De Bruyne (c) (Stones 90), Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero (G Jesus 90).
Subs not used: Ederson, Zinchenko, Foden, Garcia.
Booked: Rodri, Otamendi.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Shaw (Mata 79), Williams; Fred, Matic, Lingard (Andreas 65); Greenwood (James 46), Martial.
Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Dalot, Jones.
Goal: Matic 35
Booked: Matic, Wan-Bissaka.
Sent off: Matic