Manchester City reached their first final under Pep Guardiola as the Premier League leaders beat battling Bristol City in the Carabao Cup.
Already leading 2-1 from the first leg, goals from Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne at Ashton Gate ensured Manchester City’s place at Wembley on Sunday, 25 February.
They dominated the first half and Sane deservedly put the visitors in front shortly before the break, with his deflected shot bouncing in after Bernardo Silva had dispossessed Hordur Magnusson.
Manchester City looked to have all but killed the tie early in the second half when Aguero’s strike across goal rounded off a lethal counter attack.
The Championship team produced a rousing final 20 minutes to give Guardiola’s side a brief late scare, with Marlon Pack’s smart header and Aden Flint’s stoppage-time goal threatening for a moment to take the tie into extra time.
But De Bruyne’s calm finish with the final kick of the game denied Bristol City a creditable draw on the night and confirmed Manchester City’s place in the final where they will face Arsenal.
The Robins, meanwhile, will turn their attention to converting their current fifth place in the second tier into promotion – with their four previous victories over Premier League opposition in the Carabao Cup giving them a taste of what they hope is to come.
Guardiola is now just one game from winning his first silverware with Manchester City, having endured only the second barren season of his managerial career in 2016-17.
The 47-year-old Spaniard, who won 14 trophies in four years as Barcelona boss and a further seven in three years at Bayern Munich, is hoping to lead City to an unprecedented quadruple.
He has repeatedly played down his team’s chances of achieving that feat, yet they continue to fight strongly on all fronts – already 12 points clear in the Premier League, they have also reached the last 16 of the Champions League and the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Domestically, only Liverpool have found a way to beat them so far this season, meaning the one apparent remaining question mark is over whether they can translate their league and cup form into European competition.
If they are able to progress beyond FC Basel and into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, even at this early stage they may seldom have a better opportunity of sealing a clean sweep of league and cups.