Manchester United fell to a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Ashton Gate, knocking them out of the Carabao Cup. Joe Bryan had given City the lead in the 51st minute, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised soon after with his first goal since returning from injury. The game looked to be heading towards extra-time, but Korey Smith had other ideas, smashing in a stoppage time winner to leave Ashton Gate delirious and Lee Johnson delighted.
Here are some of the major talking points from this game:
Holders dumped out spectacularly
United, the defending champions, would have liked to be part of the semi-final draw which took place right after the game. With City, Arsenal and Chelsea already part of the hat, it would have made for a blockbuster semi-final draw if United had joined in. Instead, it will be Bristol City playing Manchester City, after a completely deserved victory over the Red Devils. United were just not at the races, with too many players looking disinterested or out of form. Bristol, on the other hand, were committed, aggressive and created the better chances, egged on by a passionate Ashton Gate. While it’s only the Carabao Cup, the early taste of silverware can be vital to a team’s prospects, and having won it last year, Jose Mourinho would have definitely wanted to repeat the trick this time around. Instead, it will be Lee Johnson and his men who now have a chance to go to Wembley; with just the small matter of overcoming the Manchester City juggernaut first.
Zlatan still needs time
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first start for United, since that horrific knee injury in April. There were fears that his career would be over, but the Swede has recovered in near-record time, and after building up fitness with a series of substitute appearances, he was unleashed from the start here. On this evidence, however, he still needs some more time. He looked understandably rusty, with his hold-up play and movement both quite sloppy. He hit the post in the first half, when a little more composure would’ve probably seen him score. He did score, hitting a low freekick to equalize for United; and this was by no means a poor outing for Zlatan. However, one gets the sense that there is more to come, and he needs to be handled with patience, given his age and the seriousness of the injury he has recovered from.
Darmian not up to scratch
Matteo Darmian got a rare start, deputising for Antonio Valencia at right wing-back, as Jose surprisingly started with three centre-backs. Most of Darmian’s better performances recently have come when he has played on the left; however, this was a chance to show what he could do on his natural side. The Italian was extremely poor, repeatedly failing to stop his man going past him, and barely getting forward to support the attack himself. He did not stop the ball that led to the winner either, and City always had a chance when they played down his flank. Darmian needs to do much better than this; these were Championship-standard opponents making merry against an Italian international, and his future at United looks bleak.