Raheem Sterling's Brace Leads Manchester City Past Oxford United in Carabao Cup

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

OXFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City shoots during the Carabao Cup Quarter Final match between Oxford United and Manchester City at Kassam Stadium on December 18, 2019 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Manchester City are in the semi-finals of the 2019 Carabao Cup after beating Oxford United 3-1 thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace in the last eight on Wednesday night.

The holders went in front via Joao Cancelo's deflected first-half effort at the Kassam Stadium, but Matty Taylor equalised for the League One side seconds after the restart, before Sterling converted twice in close in.

City's win means the holders still have the chance to lift this trophy for a third season running and fourth time in five seasons.

City laboured through a fairly turgid 22 minutes before taking the lead courtesy of Cancelo. The former Juventus right-back broke at pace after being released by Phil Foden.

Cancelo's shot took a touch that wrong-footed Oxford goalkeeper Jordan Archer.

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πŸŽ™ - "The Carabao Cup kings are on their way again!" The finish is a tad fortunate - but the build-up play from Manchester City here...😍 Watch live on Sky Sports Football now or follow our live blog: https://t.co/oAM91s4wrY https://t.co/rj5qzVqUQQ

The Citizens had hardly turned on the style but just about merited the lead at the break. City's advantage didn't last long though and was wiped out with the sound of the second-half whistle still echoing through the air.

A quick free-kick saw the hosts play Taylor in behind. It was a chance the bullish striker didn't waste, finishing emphatically to leave City stunned.

There was some controversy about the goal because the ball appeared to be moving when the free kick was taken.

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Manchester City get caught cold at the start of the second-half! ❄ Matty Taylor is on the move and on the scoresheet for Oxford United! Watch live on Sky Sports Football now or follow our live blog: https://t.co/oAM91s4wrY https://t.co/0p6jOUtU3m

To their credit, the holders rallied swiftly and retook the lead when left-back Angelino guided a superb cross into the path of Sterling. The prolific winger was never likely to miss from close range.

Sterling's goal should have been the cue for a City bombardment, but instead Oxford proceeded to batter a young defence with an aerial assault aimed at getting Taylor more involved. Young central defenders Eric Garcia, 18, and 17-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis were just about hanging on.

Pep Guardiola wanted to ease the pressure on the inexperienced prospects at the back and duly beefed up his attack by introducing Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus. It was the latter who made the difference when he crossed for Sterling to tap in again to put the tie out of Oxford's reach and add to his impressive tally across all competitions:

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⚽️ Raheem Sterling has scored 1️⃣8️⃣ goals in all comps this season - more than any other PL player https://t.co/15PiPrAlDt

There were still chances, with Cancelo smacking a shot off the post, before Jamie Mackie lifted an effort over from inside the box at the other end. City also needed Claudio Bravo to make a clutch save when substitute Mark Sykes found some space from close range.

The Citizens eventually let their slick passing run the clock down and held off Oxford's spirited attempts to keep the contest alive. Those efforts didn't yield anything except make passage to the final four a nervy experience for City.

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What's Next?

City host second-placeΒ Leicester CityΒ at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday, while Oxford are at home toΒ Wycombe WanderersΒ on the same day.