'A beautiful day' ... ManU dumped by minnows Bristol City in League Cup

December 21, 2017
Bristol City's Korey Smith

LONDON, England (AP):

Even Jose Mourinho couldn't help savouring the scale of Bristol City's achievement, however painful it was seeing Manchester United's League Cup defence ended by a second-tier club.

"I think a beautiful day for football," Mourinho said after the 2-1 loss on Wednesday, "because a team from a lower division won and got into the semi-final. A big day for them and a big day for their supporters, so I congratulate them."

The United manager isn't usually so magnanimous, but then there is much to admire about Bristol City this season.

Eliminating the holders, through a goal in the third minute of stoppage time, was no fluke for the 123-year-old team without a major trophy to its name. United are the southwest England team's fourth Premier League scalp after knocking out Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace. City are also pushing to gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time.

But the reward for eliminating United is an even tougher semi-final over two legs against runaway Premier League leader Manchester City in January for a place in the final against Chelsea or Arsenal.

"These players now will have a bond forever," City manager Lee Johnson said. "A night like tonight will just cement that bond."

 

UNLEASHED THE BALL

 

The quarter-final was heading to extra time until a goal Johnson expects to "live in the memory for many generations" at the club. Korey Smith brought down Matty Taylor's chipped pass on his chest and unleashed the ball on the turn under United goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

"A few times I'd made runs in behind and I wasn't being tracked," Smith said. "So I said at halftime to the boys, 'If I make that run look for me and I'll try and get that shot off.' Luckily Tayls (Taylor) made a great ball and it's gone in.

Thousands of fans flood onto the field after a game that had seen Joe Bryan's opener for City canceled out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the striker's first start of the season.

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