EFL Cup - Quarter-Final
Bristol CityBristol City2Man UtdManchester United1

Bristol City 2-1 Manchester United

By Brendon MitchellBBC Sport at Ashton Gate
Korey Smith
Korey Smith struck as Bristol City reached the League Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1989

Korey Smith scored an injury-time winner as Championship side Bristol City stunned holders Manchester United to reach the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.

Smith's turn and strike in the final minute of time added on booked a last-four tie against Premier League leaders Manchester City.

After an even first hour, Joe Bryan's rasping left-foot shot across goal into the top corner gave the Robins a shock lead at a packed Ashton Gate.

Their advantage lasted just eight minutes, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic marking his first start since 20 April with a low free-kick past Luke Steele, before Smith struck.

There were jubilant scenes at the final whistle, with much of the sell-out crowd rushing on to the pitch in celebration and taking selfies with some of the City players.

Despite fielding a side showing 10 changes, United manager Jose Mourinho had recalled Paul Pogba after a three-match ban and picked a forward line of Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

The visitors did carve out numerous opportunities from open play, with Ibrahimovic and Rashford both striking the woodwork before half-time.

But, despite clearly tiring towards the end, City continued to throw numbers forward and were rewarded with Smith's dramatic winner - making United the fourth Premier League side they have knocked out this season, after Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace.

How did Bristol City do it?

Bristol City's Josh Brownhill after the match
Lights, camera, action - it was all mobile phones and selfies after the final whistle

Head coach Lee Johnson has overseen a remarkable - bordering on unprecedented - turnaround during the past nine months.

Having endured a run of 15 defeats in 20 games, including a club record eight successive losses, the 36-year-old's job looked under serious threat - as did City's Championship status.

But, backed by owner Steve Lansdown, Johnson has since transformed the Robins into genuine promotion contenders, currently third in the table and now having won nine of their past 11 matches in all competitions.

As well as the upturn in results, the former midfielder has also produced a team now well recognised for their eye-catching brand of high-pressing, high-energy football - attributes they demonstrated in abundance against United.

With diminutive pairing Bobby Reid and Jamie Paterson up front, City were forced to play through the lines rather than going direct and, although United were generally comfortable keeping the Robins at arm's length, Smith had already got clear in the first half only to be denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by Daley Blind.

Academy product Bryan, previously linked with a move to the top flight, was another important outlet and the home side's best player on the night, scoring a fine goal to put the hosts in front.

City maintained their confidence despite Ibrahimovic's equaliser and, with extra-time looming, they got their rewards as Smith kept his cool by stroking home a famous winner.

A historic night for the Robins

Bristol City, without a major trophy in their history, have only four times reached the semi-final stage of the FA Cup or EFL Cup previously.

Since dropping out of the top flight in 1980 and nearly going out of business two years later, the club have spent much of their time in the second and third tiers of the pyramid.

But there is now a feeling in south Bristol that this exciting young head coach, and his team, could achieve something special.

Owner Lansdown has funded the redevelopment of Ashton Gate, now an impressive 27,000-capacity venue, as well as backing Johnson in the transfer market, although £5.3m summer signing Famara Diedhiou did not feature on Wednesday because of a knee injury.

In the build-up, defender Aden Flint had described the Manchester United fixture as their "least important game of the month" and, though a two-legged last-four tie awaits, City's attention will now turn towards continuing their push for the Premier League.

'Total euphoria'

Lee Johnson
Johnson's side have won five games in a row and have lost once in 11 matches in all competitions

Johnson celebrated Smith's late winner by picking up a ballboy and hugging and swinging him around on the touchline as Ashton Gate experienced disbelief.

With Championship matches against QPR, Reading and leaders Wolves to come before the end of the year, Johnson wants this famous result to bring more fans in to fuel their promotion hopes.

"To beat Manchester United at home is a historic occasion," he said.

"That Korey Smith goal at the end will live in the memory for many generations. Total euphoria.

"I didn't know what to do! I wanted to run and celebrate with the lads. He [the ball boy] was the only one there.

"Hopefully it will attract more supporters in because we want more nights like that.

"You don't beat Manchester United if you're Bristol City unless every man is doing a man-and-a-half's job."

What went wrong for United?

Jose Mourinho (left) and Lee Johnson
Contrasting emotions - it was a night to forget for Mourinho but it was all smiles for Johnson at the end

Mourinho, the joint most successful manager in the history of the competition with four wins, will rue a number of missed chances, even though the two sides were well-matched.

The visitors hit the woodwork twice before half-time, while Bristol City goalkeeper Steele produced two brilliant saves to deny Romelu Lukaku - brought on with half an hour to go - a fourth goal in five games.

Rashford and Martial curled further efforts wide of the post either side of the break, while twice late on United failed to make the most of clear openings on the counter-attack.

But they were never able to take full control of the tie as they would have hoped. They were harassed and harried in possession and, be it through tenacious defending or sloppy play, were subsequently unable to sustain long periods of pressure.

United, 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City in the Premier League, will now likely look at the FA Cup and Champions League as their best hopes of silverware in 2017-18 - with this tie surely considered a missed opportunity.

Mourinho lower league woe - the stats

  • Manchester United have been knocked out in four of their past seven League Cup ties against sides from a lower league.
  • Bristol City are only the second side from a lower division to eliminate four top-flight teams in one League Cup campaign - after Sheffield Wednesday in 1990-91.
  • The Robins have now scored 16 goals in this EFL Cup campaign - more than any other side in the competition.
  • Bristol City became only the second lower division side to knock United out of the League Cup as holders, after Southend United in 2006-07.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first goal for the Red Devils since April against Sunderland, 255 days ago.
  • Joe Bryan's opener means he's scored three goals in his past four games in all competitions for Bristol City - as many as he had in his previous 105 for the Robins.
  • Bristol City are only the second lower league side Jose Mourinho has lost to as a manager in England, after Bradford came from 2-0 down to beat his Chelsea side 4-2 in the 2014-15 FA Cup.

What's next?

The busy Christmas period, that's what. Bristol City are back in action when they play QPR at Loftus Road in a Championship fixture on Saturday, kick-off 15:00 GMT. United have a few more hours to recover - they play at Leicester in the Premier League at 19:45 GMT.


Bristol City

  • 15Steele
  • 5Wright
  • 4Flint
  • 6Baker
  • 23MagnussonSubstituted forTaylorat 69'minutesBooked at 89mins
  • 8BrownhillSubstituted forEliassonat 74'minutes
  • 21Pack
  • 7Smith
  • 3Bryan
  • 20PatersonBooked at 47mins
  • 14Reid


  • 1Fielding
  • 10Taylor
  • 19Eliasson
  • 25Kelly
  • 26Vyner
  • 27Garita
  • 34Lemonheigh-Evans

Man Utd

  • 20Romero
  • 36DarmianSubstituted forSmallingat 90+4'minutes
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 5Rojo
  • 23Shaw
  • 39McTominay
  • 17BlindSubstituted forLukakuat 61'minutes
  • 6PogbaBooked at 89mins
  • 19RashfordBooked at 74mins
  • 10IbrahimovicSubstituted forMkhitaryanat 69'minutes
  • 11Martial


  • 8Mata
  • 9Lukaku
  • 12Smalling
  • 14Lingard
  • 21Herrera
  • 22Mkhitaryan
  • 40Castro Pereira
Mike Dean

Match Stats

Home TeamBristol CityAway TeamMan Utd
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Bristol City 2, Manchester United 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Bristol City 2, Manchester United 1.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Chris Smalling replaces Matteo Darmian.

  4. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol City 2, Manchester United 1. Korey Smith (Bristol City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Matty Taylor with a through ball.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott McTominay.

  6. Booking

    Paul Pogba (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.

  7. Booking

    Matty Taylor (Bristol City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  8. Post update

    Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Matty Taylor (Bristol City).

  10. Post update

    Foul by Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United).

  11. Post update

    Aden Flint (Bristol City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Luke Steele.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Anthony Martial.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcus Rashford.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Bristol City. Conceded by Sergio Romero.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jamie Paterson (Bristol City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Aden Flint.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Martial (Manchester United).

  19. Post update

    Aden Flint (Bristol City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Bailey Wright.


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