A brace by Raheem Sterling ensured Carabao Cup holders Manchester City remain on course to win the competition for a third consecutive year after a 3-1 victory over Oxford sent them through to a semi-final against local rivals Manchester United.
Matty Taylor cancelled out Joao Cancelo’s first-half opener 21 seconds into the second period, but that was as good as it would get for Karl Robinson’s side against Pep Guardiola’s men.
The Spaniard had shown the hosts plenty of respect with his team selection and despite a few scary moments, saw his players come through unscathed.
FULL TIME | A real battle in Oxford but a second half brace from @sterling7 ensures we are through to the Semi-Finals! 💙
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 18, 2019
Guardiola went strong for the quarter-final tie, with Sterling captaining the XI and leading an attack which included Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and highly-rated Phil Foden.
City assistant coach Mikel Arteta was in attendance at Kassam Stadium and completing his duties despite speculation surrounding his future, with Arsenal said to be close to appointing him as their new head coach.
The visitors got proceedings underway after a minute’s applause for former Oxford manager Jim Smith and Ron Saunders, who took charge of both City and United.
Robinson’s side started brightly enough, but the Premier League champions were moving the ball around slickly and demonstrated that perfectly for the opener in the 22nd minute.
An 11-pass move saw the ball spread from the left-back position by Oleksandr Zinchenko out to the right before Foden released Cancelo and he fired home via a deflection for his first goal since moving to the club from Juventus.
Sterling should have made it 2-0 not long after, but chipped wide to continue his frustrating evening before Mahrez drilled into the side-netting six minutes before half-time.
It ensured City’s advantage was only one at the break and that proved decisive as merely 21 seconds into the second period Oxford were level.
Promising youngster Shandon Baptiste took a free-kick quickly and found Taylor, who cut inside Taylor Harwood-Bellis too easily and rifled into the bottom corner to delight the home crowd.
Oxford had stunned the visitors, but their joy was short-lived when City retook the lead in the 50th minute.
Angelino, in an unorthodox left-wing role, was given space and picked out Sterling, who was able to tap home for his 17th goal of the season.
To their credit, the League One outfit did not let the goal affect them and started producing wave after wave of attacks, which saw Guardiola turn to Gabriel Jesus in the 62nd minute.
Ilkay Gundogan had been brought on by this point too and eventually he started to pull the strings, although his contribution to City’s third in the 70th minute was a giant hoof up field.
Substitute Jesus was released down the left and in identical fashion to his first, captain for the night Sterling was picked out in the area and slotted home to complete a brace.
The U’s continued to cause problems for City, but Jamie Mackie and Mark Sykes failed to find the net following promising situations and the visitors held on to progress into the last four.