Carabao Cup holders Manchester City sealed their place in the competition’s semi finals, defeating Oxford United 3-1 at the Kassam Stadium on a wet and windy Wednesday evening.
An intriguing tactical battle unfolded in the opening 20 minutes, as Oxford more than held their own against the Premier League champions. With their front three winning the ball back aggressively higher up the pitch, the compact shape of their remaining outfield players made it difficult for City to play through the middle.
However, City’s quality eventually shone through as they took a 21st minute lead. Joao Cancelo’s shot deflected off Elliott Moore to wrong foot Jordan Archer in the Oxford goal to cap off an excellent counter-attacking move. City passed their way out from defence to perfection and Phil Foden set the Portuguese free in an empty channel to score his first goal for the club.
Oxford hit back in the opening minute of the second half as Shandon Baptiste’s quick free kick found Matty Taylor, who turned onto his left foot in the City penalty area and shot beyond Claudio Bravo to make it 1-1. However, it did appear that the ball was rolling when the set piece was taken.
That was only a concern for five minutes, before Raheem Sterling slotted home Angelino’s low cross and restored City’s lead. A sense of deja vu gripped the Kassam Stadium on 70 minutes, as Gabriel Jesus squared to Sterling and his tap in made it 3-1. Karl Robinson will be disappointed by how his team defended the long clearance that made its way to Jesus via Ilkay Gundogan.
Oxford pressed for late goals and City were thankful for Bravo between the sticks, the Chilean made smart saves from Robert Dickie and Mark Sykes in the final ten minutes as the hosts continued to attack with intent but failed to notch for a second time.