Bristol City were “lucky” to beat Manchester United in the Carabao Cup but the result was a “beautiful day for football”, said Jose Mourinho.
Korey Smith scored an injury-time winner as the Championship side shocked the holders with a 2-1 victory.
The Robins will face unbeaten Premier League leaders Manchester City in the two-legged semi-finals.
“A team from the lower division won. A big day for them,” United boss Mourinho told Sky Sports.
The Robins reached the last four of the competition for the first time since 1988-89 with a well-deserved victory at Ashton Gate, going ahead in the second half through Joe Bryan’s thunderbolt into the top corner.
Prior to the opener, City defender Nathan Baker diverted the ball onto his own crossbar and Marcus Rashford fired a low shot onto the foot of the post, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised with a deflected free-kick.
But Smith’s cool strike sparked jubilant scenes as United became City’s fourth top-flight scalp in this year’s competition, after Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace.
Mourinho said: “They were a bit lucky but they fought a lot to be lucky. Everyone was waiting for our goal so they were lucky. We hit the post twice.
“But they played brilliantly, they fought like it was the game of their lives which probably it was. A beautiful day for football.”
United players blow their chance
Portuguese boss Mourinho, who has won the competition four times, made 10 changes to his starting line-up after beating West Brom on Sunday, but still included Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
The former Chelsea boss suggested those that were named in the initial 11 had blown their chance to impress.
“The reality is that the players that were on the pitch were the ones that were not in the last match,” said Mourinho.
“They are the ones that are not going to be in the next match. I think they lost a good opportunity also to play semi-finals and also to have two more matches to play.
“But I don’t want to blame the players at all because I think they were professional – it wasn’t a case of ‘we don’t care about the game’ or ‘we don’t have responsibility’ or ‘we don’t have pride’.
“I think they showed they had that after the 1-0 [the first goal] and they had that until they [Bristol City] scored the second goal in the last few seconds and we had no chance to react.”