Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side may be set to end the season trophy-less, and even outside of the automatic Champions League places, but the Elite Developmental Squad went a step closer to silverware last night after they beat Celtic 5-3 on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup.
The competition is a chance for some of Europe’s top academies to do battle, and despite the lack of a goal through the 120 minutes, it was clear that both clubs have a great crop of youngsters making their way towards their respective first-teams.
For City, goalkeeper Angus Gunn was the hero on the night. It was the son of Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn that saved Jamie Lindsay’s spot-kick in the shootout to win the tie, but he had to be exceptional on the night to keep Celtic from scoring a couple of goals on Thursday.
Gunn had to be alert to save a low shot from Michael Duffy in the first half, and then showed his athletic side as Joe Thomson’s header had to be acrobatically turned over the bar following an excellent cross from Darnell Fisher.
In the second half an awful back-pass from Ashley Smith-Brown gave Duffy another great one-on-one chance, but the ‘keeper stood tall and wasn’t going to let Duffy take the advantage in their personal battle.
There were a few chances for City. In regular time, Olivier Ntcham forced a wonderful save from Leonardo Fasan as the Frenchman seemed to pull a powerful shot out of nowhere.
Celtic captain Connor McManus had the best chance to win the game in extra-time when his right-footed volley flashed just past the post. Gunn could only stand and watch as it went inches wide.
Penalties would decide the game, and it was Lindsay that would miss the crucial spot-kick. Gunn made the save and it was left to Smith-Brown to seal the victory.
City will face Leicester City in the semi-finals of the competition.