League Cup Quarter Final
Tuesday 17 December 2013, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta (Boyata 12), Lescott, Kompany (c), Kolarov, Milner, Garcia, Rodwell, Navas, Silva (Nasri 70), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Demichelis, Fernandinho, Negredo
Goals: Kolarov (8), Dzeko (41, 53)
Booked: Navas, Boyata
Referee: Roger East
Man of the Match: James Milner
City named a strong side for their trip to Leicester, with the Blues having struggled away from home. It took just eight minutes for the visitors to open the scoring, as Dzeko turned away from Knockaert and the Leicester man brought him down 30 yards from goal. Kolarov stepped up and curled it into the top corner.
However, Pellegrini’s decision to play a strong starting XI looked like it might have backfired after 12 minutes – Zabaleta was forced off through injury, which was unwelcome given the absence of Richards with a hamstring problem from the trip to Munich.
Mid-way through the first half, the visitors should have gone two goals in front. Silva slipped Kolarov through on the left flank and as he raced into the box he squared it for Dzeko. It needed touching past Schmeichel, but the striker could only find the former City keeper, who spread himself well to block. Rodwell’s follow up was skewed wide.
The away side were beginning to pile on the pressure. A Silva corner found its way to Kolarov, who volleyed towards the top corner, but Schmeichel punched it over the bar. Rodwell climbed well from the next flag kick, but that was also deflected high by one of the covering defenders.
Despite some high pressing by Leicester, a decisive City break as half time approached doubled the visitors’ advantage. Navas slid the pass through to Milner on the inside left channel and, facing Schmeichel, he chipped the cross to Dzeko, arriving at the back post. The Bosnian nodded it down and into the net.
Navas picked up a loose ball in the box following a Schmeichel save from a Milner effort, before the Spaniard had another pop after some great work between Rodwell and Silva to slid the winger in. It took a full length stretch from the Leicester goalkeeper to make this save – and this time he held on, with Dzeko closing in.
Five minutes into the second half, the home side forced Hart into a good save. A break had allowed the ball to creep through to King on the edge of the box and he tried to curl it around the England goalkeeper. He couldn’t wrap his foot around it enough and the City shot-stopper held it.
But just as soon as it looked like the hosts could get back into the game, the visitors added their third. Milner collected a throw-in from Kolarov on the left flank. There, he pulled it across the box for Dzeko – and the unmarked striker passed it into the bottom corner, leaving Schmeichel standing.
With just under 15 minutes left to play, the hosts pulled a goal back. It was one the City defence wouldn’t have been pleased with, as Boyata was too far from his man and allowed the ball to be knocked inside to Dyer. He smashed a shot towards goal, which deflected off Kompany and beat Hart at his near post – as he reacted to the initial effort.
A poor ball from Kompany across his own half allowed Schlupp to run at goal and it needed a big tackle from Lescott to prevent him getting a shot in. The rebound fell to James, whose shot was well held by Hart, who needed to be at full stretch to keep it out.
Deep into stoppage time, the hosts had a chance to add their second. Schlupp got in behind Lescott on the Leicester right and tried to square for Dyer, but Hart anticipated it well to drop down onto the low cross and regain possession for City. Had Schlupp shot, he may have found the net.
In the end, City never really got out of second gear – but did enough to make it into the semi-finals.