Manchester United’s defence of the Carabao Cup came to an end in shocking fashion tonight as Championship side Bristol City dumped the Reds out of the cup with an injury-time winner in their quarter-final tie.
Korey Smith’s late strike sent Ashton Gate into raptures and ensured the unfancied Robins their place in the semi-finals alongside the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, while José Mourinho’s side were left to ponder what was a subpar performance.
Mourinho made wholesale changes to the side that beat West Brom at the weekend, with the likes of Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming into the side. Paul Pogba also made his return having served his three-match suspension.
However, the changes to the side were apparent, as United were very much disjointed throughout the 90 minutes. Despite hitting the woodwork through Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford, the Reds posed little threat as Bristol City looked up for the fight.
And the Robins took the lead in spectacular fashion at the start of the second half, with Joe Bryan finishing off a wonderful move with a powerful strike which gave Sergio Romero no chance. The lead lasted all of seven minutes though, as Ibrahimovic scored his first goal since returning from injury, blasting a free-kick past Luke Steele.
Despite bringing the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in an effort to win the game, it was City that eventually snatched the winner, just as the affair was meandering towards extra time. Smith was played through on goal by Bryan and the midfielder slotted past Romero’s legs to spark massive celebrations at Ashton Gate.
Here are the United player ratings:
Sergio Romero - 5
Uncharacteristically sloppy despite making some good saves. Was troubled by the high ball and Bristol City’s attempts to disrupt him from distributing the ball quickly.
Matteo Darmian - 3
Shocking performance. Seemed to go through the motions most of the time and never had the desire to get forward on the overlap. A prime candidate for a move away from Old Trafford.
Victor Lindelof - 6
Solid and composed enough in defence, but caught a bit flat-footed for the Bristol City winner.
Marcos Rojo - 5
Bit more troubled than his defensive partner throughout and was terribly outpaced by Joe Bryan for Bristol City’s shock opener.
Luke Shaw - 6
Didn’t get forward much but was defensively solid despite being caught out of position a couple of times by Josh Brownhill, who was a handful to deal with.
Daley Blind - 5
One brilliant recovery tackle aside, wasn’t too impressive in what is said to be his natural position in defensive midfield. Another candidate to be shipped off in the transfer window.
Scott McTominay - 6
Kept things short and simple in midfield, leaving most of the heavy duty creative work to Pogba. Shooting needs improvement though, blazing two efforts well over.
Paul Pogba - 6
Showed his creative nous in his preferred role on the left of a midfield three but ultimately a frustrating night. Won the free-kick that led to Zlatan’s equaliser.
Marcus Rashford - 5
Good first half, where he struck the post with a fiercely-hit effort, but tailed off badly in the second. His decision making leaves a lot to be desired at times.
Anthony Martial - 6
United’s main attacking threat. Couple of jinking runs and a lovely cross for Zlatan in the early stages. Like Rashford, tailed off in the second half.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 6
Much like many of his performances last season, didn’t really look all that threatening before coming up with a spectacular goal out of nowhere. The stand-in skipper needs games to get back up to full speed.
Romelu Lukaku (7) – Immediately gave United’s attack a more threatening look. Forced Luke Steele into two good saves, first with a long-range effort and then a header.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (6) – Couple of misplaced passes but brought more invention and verve to United’s play in the final third. Needs to sort out the inconsistency to secure his future at Old Trafford though.