Date: 24th January 2018 at 8:50pm
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The dream may very well be over for brave Bristol City, but for Pep Guardiola and his men it is very much still alive as Manchester City booked their place at Wembley for the final of the Carabao Cup next month.

The Boss might have dissed the competition a bit when it first started but he has quickly recognised the value of lining the sideboard in February as a tonic for the rest of the season. And this was reflected in the respect he showed Bristol by fielding, Sterling and Ederson apart, his best available eleven.

With this team on the field it was inevitable that the Blues would spend most of the night knocking on the West Country door in their bid to improve on the slender 2-1 they managed to accumulate at the Etihad a fortnight ago.

For their part, Lee Johnson`s men formed a blockade in front of their sticks, bravely throwing their bodies in front of more or less everything City could muster, but as the statistics grew in the Blues` favour, the score remained at 0-0 until the stroke of half time.

Bernardo Silva had been selected ahead of Sterling tonight and to be honest looked a little lightweight at times against a hard-tackling, robust outfit, but as half-time approached he chased down a ball that Magnusson was trying to let go for a goal kick. His neat toe-poke through the legs of the Bristol defender found the enigmatic Sane, whose goalbound shot was assisted towards its destination by Flint, a rock in the Robins defence. Hitherto, the German looked like he was having one of those nights where he looked like his boots were tied together, his first touch not always what he wanted and his passing often wayward.

So what looked destined to be a lacklustre 0-0 half-time scoreline suddenly took on a different complexion giving City a two-goal aggregate advantage, leaving Bristol with a mountain to climb in the second half.

It didn`t get any better for them early in the second half as City once again pressed them almost to death and suddenly Aguero found himself in the clear in probably his favourite position, cutting in from the right and he duly drilled it just inside the far post to put the game to bed. Or did he?

Bristol made a couple of changes bringing on fresh legs and fresh tactics as they decided to go to the air as their ground efforts were bringing them no joy. And it paid off pretty much immediately as Stones crowned another match with another gift as a result of his lack of concentration.

Stones poor attempted clearance wormed its way to Paterson whose decent cross found Pack six yards out and his firm header put Bristol on the scoresheet. It was probably a reward for their efforts which in many ways were far superior to the park the bus teams that adorn the Premier League, especially the one in second place.

There was still 25 minutes to play, so did Bristol dare conceive that the improbable was possible?

City seemed too content to allow a bit of complacency to drift into their game as they strolled seemingly without a care towards their first Cup Final under the guardiandship of Guardiola.

But then another piece of gifting allowed Bristol and their noisy fans to really believe it could happen.

This time Danilo was the culprit. Having replaced the impressive Walker, the Brazilian was caught napping, robbed and the ball found its way to Reid at the back stick. His header into the danger area was met by Flint, just about onside and he equalised on the night after 94 minutes and left his manager asking the fourth official if there was time to complete the comeback.

And it could have been on as added time was nearing its end, but then one of City`s text book moves caught them napping. Moving the ball with rapid precision out of defence, Silva shifted it on to Sane out wide. The German looked up using his pace to get clear and saw the back stick loaded with De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Sane`s typical cross behind the back four found De Bruyne who simply dispatched it into the net to restore City`s lead on the night, stretch the aggregate score to 5-3 and book the train tickets to Watford.

It was a typical cup tie where opponents from a lower league did not stand on ceremony. The stellar Premier League leaders meant nothing to a lively team who in the last round sentenced the Stretford Stagecoachers to the exit door, much to the delight of just about everyone outside of Sold Trafford.

It was not going to happen against this City team, though, but they did make life uncomfortable for the Blues. Lee Johnson has well drilled a team of unknown footballers into a useful outfit which functions well as a team and are certainly no pushovers. It is to be hoped that they can sustain a challenge for promotion and not get disheartened by this defeat. No doubt Lee Johnson will be in demand and linked with just about every managerial vacancy that comes along in the next six months or so. He is to be congratulated for the way his team presents itself and the way they have dismantled four Premier League teams in their run to the semi-final, especially as in amongst that collection was the Stretfords who no doubt thought they only had to turn up to win.

City`s opponents in the final are the Gooners who give rise to a better spectacle than Chelsea.

We move on the FA Cup this weekend when City will once again be in a similar location as they take on Neil Warnock`s Cardiff City. They return to league duty on Wednesday when West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to the Etihad.

So United beat us to secure the services of Sanchez, having forked out what looks like a ridiculous sum of money to get their man. I certainly had him wrong thinking that he wanted to win things, hopefully commencing this season. But no. In the end it was all about the money, so I for one am delighted he is milking that from the Glazers coffers. No doubt there will soon be a line outside Maureen`s front door.

I was also interested to see Gary Neville recommending that they get Laporte before City can get their hands on him and also that they are showing an interest in Fred. It appears that they intend to buy up all of City`s targets. Do they not know that City are secretly in negotiations for Andy Carroll, Daniel Sturridge and Chicharito?