Manchester City made it through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night after a dramatic clash with Leicester City that included a fair few points of note, culminating in a 3-1 penalty shoot-out headlined by the heroics of Arijanet Muric.
A debut start for Eric Garcia ushered in the pre-match discussion, but it wasn’t before long that Kevin De Bruyne was the topic of choice after a finely-struck opener courtesy of finding space to fire through some fancy footwork.
Marc Albrighton’s second-half stunner, the product a brave late rally from the Foxes, took the match to penalties, but it was Man City’s young Kosovan keeper who would ultimately receive the plaudits.
De Bruyne, who took in 71 minutes of action as he threatens rivals with his full return to the starting XI, and despite winning man of the match, heaped praise on the 20-year-old spot-kick saviour.
“It was an open game and in the end this guy helped us secure the semi-final,” the Belgian told Sky Sports.
“He made some great saves – he’s got veins of ice!
“He did what he had to do, but in the end I think it’s just a beautiful moment for him.”
Muric, stood at 6 feet 6 inches tall and dwarfing the diminutive De Bruyne, was asked about his penalty-saving technique, particularly surrounding James Maddison’s tame effort.
“I was waiting for him,” the young keeper said.
“I was just looking for the ball. I was waiting until they [Leicester] kicked it, so I was just reacting.
“It’s a great feeling.”
Attacking midfielder De Bruyne has been sidelined for some time and although City have coped well in the orchestrator’s absence, fans have been eager awaiting his return.
“It’s difficult to start when you’re injured for five months,” De Bruyne laughed. “But it felt good, you know?
“I played 70 minutes, and to do that after being out for so long is a really good sign for me personally.
“I feel a little bit stiff, but I’m happy to contribute again. And, obviously, we want to win titles – so we are in the semi-final, we know it’s two more games, and we can battle for another trophy again.
“That’s our goal.”