Published: 22:07 | 20/12/17

Bristol City's win over Man U is "unbelievable", says match-winner Smith


​Bristol City midfielder and match-winner Korey Smith has branded his team's Carabao Cup victory over defending champions Manchester United as "unbelievable".

Smith collected a cross into the box from Matt Taylor in the 93rd minute, before turning to smash home through keeper Sergio Romero's legs to send the home fans at Ashton Gate into dreamland, as the Robins held on to win 2-1 and book their spot in the semi-finals against Manchester City.

Bristol had initially taken the lead in the tie after 51 minutes when Joe Bryan collected possession in his own half, flicked the ball over the head of Daley Blind, before setting off down the left. He laid off to Marlon Pack before running a line into the box, where he received the return pass, and rifled home past Romero into the top-right corner.

United levelled on 58 minutes when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first of the season. The 36-year-old hammered a free-kick at the Bristol goal, where it took a slight deflection off Smith, before finding its way past Luke Steele to the back of the net.

But the last roll of the dice was to fall to Bristol and Smith, who was mobbed by fans as they invaded the pitch in delirium to grab umpteen selfies with the hero of the hour.

"Unbelievable - I don't know what to say," said Smith post-match. "We played brilliantly like we have all season. I wasn't being tracked when I made the runs forward, I was gutted with the one [missed opportunity] in the first half but it was a great tackle [by Daley Blind] to be fair.

"I joined when we were in League One with three stands. We have been brilliant this season.

United had looked the more likely winner having dominated with 54% possession and nine shots to Bristol's four. Marcus Rashford hit the post in the first half before Paul Pogba fired just wide from 25 yards. Rashford went close with another half-volley before Smith's first chance for Bristol, when Blind got in to snuff out the danger. Rashford continued to threaten with a shot-cum-cross that Steele turned over before Bristol opened the scoring against the run of play. 

Romelu Lukaku also threatened when he cut in off the left and fired to the near corner, when the tie was poised at 1-1, with Steele getting down low to save; the striker challenged the keeper again with a header soon after that Steele was a match to. But Bristol themselves were a threat when they broke on the counter, with Jamie Paterson curling an effort just over the United crossbar, a signal of what was to come in the form of Smith's giant-killing winning-goal in the 93rd minute.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was less than gushing in his praise for the Championship side's win; however, branding it as "lucky". Although he did admit the performance of Lee Johnson's men was a of a high calibre and that some of his own players lacked the desire needed on the night.

"They were a bit lucky but they fought a lot to be lucky. Everyone was waiting for our goal so they were lucky. We hit the post twice," said Mourinho.

"But they played brilliantly, they fought like it was the game of their lives, which probably it was. A beautiful day for football. A team from the lower division won. A big day for them.

"In the first half we lacked the intensity that they had. Physically and mentally. It was one more day in the office for my players, a day that some of them didn't even want to come to the office."

Bristol boss Johnson, meanwhile, rightly highlighted the magnitude of a famous win that sent Bristol into only their third ever League Cup semi-final.

"It's an overwhelming feeling of pride, to beat Manchester United is incredible," said Johnson. "They are a special group. It's been a long time since we had a result like that at Ashton Gate.

"The lads didn't want to go into extra-time and the scenes that winner set off were unbelievable. My dad [Gary Johnson] always says he's the most successful Bristol City manager so I have maybe pushed him close tonight."

Johnson also addressed the chaotic pitch invasion at the end of the tie, referencing the West Country's famous cider as a potential factor in the fans joy.

"You don't want a pitch invasion, but I'm sure everyone appreciates the passion in that result," said Johnson. "I don't think many fans will be turning up for work tomorrow - they'll be on the cider."

Manchester United take on Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday, 30 December, a match which is live on BT Sport 1 on the eir Sport pack [kick off 5.30pm]

Image: Getty/Dan Mullan

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