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City beat Wolves on penalties in Carabao Cup

EFL Cup: Manchester City 0-0 Wolves (4-1 after penalties)

Note* Reportedly Manchester City and Arsenal could reportedly be made to replay their fourth-round Carabao Cup ties regarding the use of subs after full-time. Check back for details.

Match Report

Manchester City 0-0 Wolves (4-1 after penalties)

Man City boss Pep Guardiola's Premier League leaders hosted Nuno Espirito Santo's Championship table-toppers in a Carabao Cup match that failed to deliver a single goal over 120 minutes. Manchester City goalie Claudio Bravo emerged as the hero of the day as City needed penalties to see off the hard-working Wolves to go through to the Carabao Cup Quarterfinals. Top of the Premier League Table runaway leaders Manchester City continued their impressive winning streak, but Wolverhamptom manager Nuno Espirito Santo's Championship Wolves men gave Pep Guardiola's side a real run for their money at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, drawing 0-0 after extra time before City finally won on penalties. City went into the clash enjoying an 11 match winning run. The hard-fought victory sent the EPL top flight leaders into the Carabao Cup quarter finals, but Championship  League toppers Wolves can certainly hold their heads high despite their loss.

After the win against the Wolves, Man City boss Guardiola was asked whether Nuno's side have enough to stay the pace to win the Championship League this season. "It's the same for us in the Premier League, it's October,” replied Guardiola. "Of course, they are in a good position. We knew it would be a tough, tough game. There's a physicality and they play so, so defensively. They won against Southampton away in the previous round. In the first half, we had enough chances to score one or two. They had three counters, chances, but in general we had much more chances than them. "I am so pleased and sometimes I prefer this kind of win – winning that way instead of winning 4-0 and and everything is easy,” contiued Guardiola. "Football is not like this, everything is complicated. That is why I give credit to how focused we were with our penalties."

Manchester City’s much-maligned goal-keeper Claudio Bravo saved City's hide on several occasions during the match and proved the spot-kick hero, as he stopped Alfred N'Diaye and Conor Coady, key to the hosts winning the penalty shootout 4-1 after the game ended 0-0 at full-time. Chilean Bravo was displaced as No.1 goalie by summer signing Ederson Moraes, and this was only Bravo’s third appearance of the season. Bravo produced several great stops to deny Wolves. Argentina international star striker Sergio Aguero tried and failed to become Man City's all-time top scorer in the EFL clash. Kun managed to find the net to score a penalty at the end of a shootout, but the saves by Bravo of N'Diaye and Coady's efforts that were key to the win. Aguero started the match keen to score his historic goal, but tough Wolves goalkeeper Will Norris denied him early on. In his next attempt to score Aguero badly dragged wide and volleyed over. The match tempo slowed down after that and the Wolves stayed resolute springing counter-attacks against City. Next Raheem Sterling shot wide as set pieces offered the City a chance to score, and Ryan Bennett's header from a free-kick forced Bravo into action. Yaya Toure wasted a free kick. Next the Wolves threatened a shock first-half opener. Enobakhare went past Eliaquim Mangala on his way to score the opening match goal but was denied one-on-one by Bravo.

It was raining at the start of the second half as Kun Aguero went for his record goal again, but missed. Helder Costa tried to score for the Wolves only to be denied by Bravo. Enobakhare then wasted another chance. City proceded to dominat the remainder of regulation time as Sterling directed wide, Aguero had penalty appeals rejected and Danny Batth denied Ilkay Gundogan. City's pressure left gaps that Wolves nineteen-year-old Enobakhare used. Racing from inside his own half, Enobakhare had two City men breathing down his neck by the time he shot straight at Cladio Bravo under pressure. The match went into extra-time. The desperation for a win perhaps was the cause ofToure taking a tumble before Coady made contact, leading to a booking for simulation. Substitute Kevin De Bruyne and Sterling were leading the City charge and looked set to score but could not. Sterling, Leroy Sane and Aguero also had extra time efforts before the end when the battle went into a penalty shoot-out. The first three penalties were scored before N'Diaye’s attempt was saved by Chilean Bravo who next denied Coady's spot-kick and Aguero went on to finally score to wrap up City’s victory.

Guardiola was pleased with the victory, but expressed displeasure at the Mitre ball which is usually used in Football League matches.  In an interview after the match, Ciy boss Pep Guardiola branded the football used in Man City’s exciting 4-1 penalty shootout win over the Wolves as “unacceptable for a high-level competition” after his side barely survived a scare to progress to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after City goalie Claudio Bravo saved two Wolves penalties before top City striker Sergio Agüero scored the decisive spot-kick. “It is not acceptable, the ball was unacceptable for a high-level competition,” said Guardiola. “It is too light, it moves all over the place, it is not a good ball. It is impossible to score with a ball like that and I can say that because we won, I’m not making excuses. All of my players said: ‘What is that?’ I’m sorry Carabao Cup is not a serious ball for a serious competition. It’s for marketing, money, OK but it’s not acceptable – the ball has no weight, nothing.” Fourty-six year old Guardiola was next asked if his players had had time to practise with the ball that was introduced at the start of the season for all EFL competitions except the Premier League. “One day or two days, but the ball is bad for one year or two years, it’s not acceptable. All the players complain,” Pep added.

The City boss was next asked to comment regaring Bravo who made four crucial saves in the match. “Claudio gave us the chance to go through, I’m so happy for him, the way he’s trained, a good performance and good penalties. I’m happy to win in this way.” Claudia Bravo was signed to replace England No.1 goalie Joe Hart by Guardiola in the summer of 2016 but then lost his No.1 goalie spot due to a series of high-profile errors. Bravo endured a disastrous debut season for City last year, and the Chilean is now second choice behind Ederson. “Yes, of course,” added Guardiola. “It was not easy last season for him but he’s a keeper at a high level – you can’t be the Barcelona and Chile goalkeeper without being a high level. He deserved the performance. Without him we would not be in the next round.”

Agüero’s quest for his record goal began with him missing a great chance. Raheem Sterling put the ball in the right place, but the usually dangerous No. 10 Kun muffed the shot. A few moments later Agüero was more menacing, sending a lethal ball at Will Norris’s goal, though it was always rising. Nuno’s plan to hit City on the break was atempted early on when the Wolves centre-forward Bright Enobakhare dropped deep and curved a pass out along the right to Ben Marshall. The pace of the counterattack was a red flag to Guardiola’s side. Nuno’s men tried again when N’Diaye sprinted from midfield at Bravo’s goal and the agile keeper had to scramble. Overall City maintained possession in the form they have demonstrated all season. Danilo, Silva, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and Ilkay Gündogan all demonstrated stunning interplay on the pitch. Wolves continued to press at every chance. Enobakhare put an attempt over after Ryan Bennett had headed straight at Bravo from a free-kick.Towards the end of the half City’s Jesus was able to continue after taking a fall. Just before the half, £42m defender Eliaquim Mangala was beaten by Enobakhare, however Bravo repelled the shot. 

In the second half, Wolves appeared to match City’s speed with a quickness of tackle and repositioning. But City camped deep within Wolves territory. Enobakhare lost composure and blasted high over Bravo’s bar from 20 yards out in a close call. Guardiola requires that each pass has to be precise as his players move forward in constricted areas but in this match, his men were able to reach the goal of a super-high level of control. When Yaya Touré dribbled an effort wide City  could have gone behind, but Helder Costa was stopped by Bravo. A few minutes later Agüero was handed the ball and should have struck the opener but missed. With eight minutes left, talented Kevin De Bruyne was finally brought on asa sub. Enobakhare again got past Mangala and raced clear at the death of the match, but was denied his chance to be the hero of the match, just missing the opportunity to score the winning goal to put the Wolves through. Each manager made nine changes to his side. Of the XI who defeated Burnley 3-0 here on Saturday only Bernardo Silva and Agüero, the captain for this match, survived for City. For Wolves, Nuno Espírito Santo retained Danny Batth and Coady from the 3-2 weekend win against Preston.

EFL Cup - Carabao Cup Fourth-Round Results

Swansea City 0-2 Manchester United
Arsenal 2-1 Norwich City
Bournemouth 3-1 Middlesbrough
Bristol City 4-1 Crystal Palace
Leicester Ciy 3-1 Leedds United
Manchester City 0-0 (FT) Wolverhampton (4-1 Pen.)

Chelsea v Everton
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

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