Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City needed a dramatic penalty shootout to overcome a stern Wolverhampton Wanderers side and progress to the last eight of The Carabao Cup at The Etihad Stadium last night.
The affair would be a tale of missed chances for both sides, with the visitors squandering as many as three one-on-ones and the home side seeing a catalogue of their own go by the wayside.
In the end, it took consecutive penalty saves for second-choice City keeper Claudio Bravo to set up Sergio Aguero for the winning moment, on a night where The Premier League’s and Championship’s first place sides did battle.
From the start in Manchester, Pep Guardiola made a wealth of changes from Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Burnley, with as many as nine alterations.
Coming in was Claudio Bravo, Danilo, Oluwatosin Adarabioyo, Eliaquim Mangala, Alexander Zinchenko, IIkay Gundogan, Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.
Departing was Ederson, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva and Leroy Sane, while Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva were the only survivors.
Whereas, Nuno Santo also opted for nine changes of his won from the 3-2 home triumph over Preston North End.
Will Norris, Kortney Hause, Ryan Bennett, Alfred N’Diaye, Jack Price, Ruben Vinagre, Ben Marshall, Bright Enobakhare and Wander Helder Costa all came in.
They replaced John Ruddy, Roderick, Matt Doherty, Ruben Neves, Romain Saiss, Barry Douglas, Ivan Cavaleiro, Lohner Leo Bonatini and Diogo Jose Jota for high-flying Wolves.
It would be that very home side who made the faster start on a chilly night at The Etihad, as Aguero let fly from range but Norris was up to the task of saving his effort.
Soon after, the Argentine, just one goal away from breaking Eric Brook’s City Scoring Record, fluffed his lines and a great chance after being teed up by Sterling.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Enobakhare got the better of Mangala to race through on goal, but Bravo denied him with a superb stop.
However, somehow it remained level at the break. Despite this, clear chances would not be far around the corner for Wolves at the start of the second period.
On 64 minutes, Helder Costa was slipped in with a magnificent chance to beat Bravo, but the Chilean got the better of him yet again.
The opportunity would bring the game to life as Silva went close for City and then remarkably, Enobakhare raced through yet again with the same outcome as the young Nigerian still couldn’t get past Bravo in the closing stages.
This meant extra-time, where the chances would continue to flow with the introduction of Sane, setting up Aguero and Sterling for blocked shots, before flashing a volley just over the bar himself.
But, after an enthralling clash, Referee Kevin Friend blew his final whistle and the two teams were going to be separated by nerve-wracking penalties, under the new “ABBA” system.
Leo Bonatini stepped up first for The Wanderers and netted before Kevin De Bruyne evened things up, and Yaya Toure followed him in to put City 2-1 ahead.
Then it was the turn of Alfred N’Diaye and Conor Coady to try to beat Claudio Bravo from the spot, but they were both unable to.
Leaving Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero to finish the job in style and give his side an 11th consecutive win in all Competitions, sending the four-time League Cup winners through to the Quarter-Finals.
Next up for Guardiola’s men will be a trip to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion in The Premier League on Saturday, they will find out who their Round Five opponents will be in tomorrow evening’s Round Five Draw.
Meanwhile, Santo’s Wolves will look to continue their magnificent Championship form on Saturday afternoon, when they make the tricky trip to clash with QPR.