By Josh James
Our Carabao Cup campaign is over for another season after a three-goal blast from the visitors in the second half.
The game looked to be finely balanced at half-time, after Alexandre Lacazette had equalised City's early opener.
But a goalkeeping error from Alex Runarsson saw us fall behind early in the second half, and we never recovered.
Manchester City had taken the lead from their first attack. Olkesandr Zinchenko whipped in a cross from the left and Gabriel Jesus ghosted in between Shkodran Mustafi and Runarsson to head home simply from close range.
City were playing with a freedom and passing the ball well, and there were more than ten minutes on the clock before we had a sight of their goal. Lacazette flashed a header wide at the near post from a Dani Ceballos corner.
The visitors seemed to be in control, but Gabriel Martinelli was full of running on the left, chasing down every loose ball with the hunger of a man making his first start for nine months.
And the Brazilian was instrumental in the equaliser. His first cross was half cleared by Zack Steffen, but his persistence produced another stood up centre which was powered home by Lacazette.
All of a sudden we had some confidence and began to venture into City territory more regularly.
It was a more even affair now, but we needed an excellent save from Runarsson to keep the scores level. He stuck out a strong hand to deny Jesus when one on one.
Late on in the half Martinelli was caught on the ankle by Steffen as the two collided outside the box. There were some anxious moments as Martinelli - our outstanding player of the opening 45 minutes - received lengthy treatment before returning to the pitch, albeit limping.
He re-emerged for the second half, but only briefly, before being replaced by Nicolas Pepe.
We fell behind ten minutes after the restart, when Runarsson failed to handle what looked to be a routine save from a Riyad Mahrez free kick.
Phil Foden increased City's lead moments later with a clipped finish over the advancing Runarsson, and all of a sudden the game had completely changed complexion.
It knocked the stuffing out of us and City increased the lead through a Aymeric Laporte header from Foden's dangerous cross.
There was no way back, and we fell to our fifth defeat in our past six domestic games.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Mikel Arteta made eight changes from the side that played Everton on Saturday, with just Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny retaining their place.
Goalkeeper Alex Runarsson came in for his first appearance in domestic competition, while Gabriel Martinelli made his first start up front since March.
WHAT IT MEANS
Having seen off Leicester and Liverpool in the previous two rounds, our Carabao Cup campaign ended at the quarter-final stage for the 14th time in our history, and we must turn our focus back to the Premier League once more.
We host Chelsea on Boxing Day in the first of three Premier League games in the space of eight days. The second is a trip to the south coast to take on Brighton & Hove Albion on December 29 and we kick off 2021 away to West Brom on January 2.
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