Manchester City will meet Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on 1 March – but they were given a scare by Manchester United on a nervy night at the Etihad. Nemanja Matic scored and was sent off as United came within one goal of taking the semi-final to penalties.

City were the better side for much of the game, with David de Gea forced to make a number of good saves, but they failed to put United away and were glad to hear the final whistle. Nobody could deny, however, that they were much stronger over the two legs.

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They made a flying start at the Etihad, with De Gea making three fine saves in the first 17 minutes as United struggled to cope with City’s unusual 3-2-4-1 formation.

The game settled down after that, and Matic changed the mood when he gave United the lead with their first shot of the match in the 35th minute. City were a bag of nerves either side of half-time, but soon settled down to take control of the match once again.

Nemanja Matic of Manchester United celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Carabao Cup Semi Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on January 29, 2020 in Manchester, England.

Image credit: Getty Images

United’s chances of causing a shock all but disappeared when Matic received a second yellow card in the 76th minute for a cynical foul on Ilkay Gundogan. They huffed and puffed, and will take pride from the way they stayed in the tie after such a traumatic first half at Old Trafford.

Ultimately, City were too good, and they are now one game away from winning the competition for the third year in a row. They are unlikely to be as wasteful against Villa as they were in this semi-final.

TALKING POINT

Should Nemanja Matic have been sent off?

When Matic received his second yellow card for a foul on Ilkay Gundogan, it looked a straightforward decision for the referee Kevin Friend. No United players complained, and the match soon resumed. But after the match, replays were shown from various angles that suggested both of Matic’s yellow cards were a little soft.

Referee Kevin Friend (R) shows a red card to Manchester United's Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic (L) during the English League Cup semi-final second leg football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, nor

Image credit: Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH

Kevin De Bruyne A class act, who kept his head while others were threatening to lose theirs. He led City’s furious pressing game at the start of the match, and later played some typically sublime passes – none better than the awesome stabbed through pass that created an excellent chance for Raheem Sterling.

Fred of Man Utd battles with Kevin de Bruyne of Man City during the Carabao Cup Semi Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on January 29, 2020 in Manchester, England

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Manchester City: Bravo 6, Walker 7, Otamendi 5, Rodri 7, Joao Cancelo 6, De Bruyne 9, Gundogan 8, B Silva 7, Mahrez 6, Aguero 6, Sterling 6… Subs: D Silva 5, Stones 6, Jesus 6.

Manchester United: De Gea 8, Lindelof 6, Maguire 7, Shaw 6, Wan-Bissaka 6, Fred 8, Matic 7, Williams 7, Lingard 5, Greenwood 5, Martial 5… Subs: James 5, Pereira 6, Mata 6.

KEY MOMENTS

7’ FINE SAVE FROM DE GEA! Gundogan clipped a lovely angled pass over the top for Aguero, who pulled away from Shaw and stooped to head back across goal from eight yards. De Gea flew to his right to palm it away. That was a superb reaction save.

17’ ANOTHER GOOD SAVE FROM DE GEA! Aguero overran the ball, but it turned into a good pass to Sterling on the edge of the area. He returned the ballt to Aguero, who made an angled rund round the defence - think QPR in 2012 - and hit a rising drive that was slapped round the near post by De Gea.

35’ GOAL! Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United (Matic) United score with their first shot of the match! A free-kick from the left was headed lazily across the area by Bernardo Silva, and Matic twisted his body to smack the bouncing ball past Bravo at the near post. That's a terrific finish.

Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)

Image credit: Getty Images

58’ STERLING MISSES A GREAT CHANCE! He still hasn't scored against United. De Bruyne put him through in the inside-left channel with a typically superb pass. Sterling came back inside Lindelof, ran square across the box to escape the diving de Gea ... and then lifted the ball over the bar from 12 yards. It wasn't an open goal, because there were three United defenders between him and the goal, but he should still have scored.

76’ MATIC IS SENT OFF! He gets a second yellow card for a block on Gundogan, who was leading a City counter-attack, and now United are in all sorts of bother. For a player of Matic's experience, that was a bit dumb. As promising as City's counter-attack was, Gundogan was 70 yards from United's goal.

KEY STATS

  • Manchester City became the first side to reach three consecutive League Cup finals since Liverpool won the competition four times in a row between 1981-84.
  • Manchester United have won four of their last six matches at the Etihad Stadium, including two in the last month. It is the first time they have won twice away to Manchester City in the same season since 1956-57.
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