OXFORD United’s Carabao Cup run ended – but they gave Manchester City’s star names a difficult night at a packed Kassam Stadium.

A strong visiting line-up full of household names were made to work for their passage to the fourth round, as the Sky Bet League One strugglers raised their game.

There were concerns before the game a new record defeat could be on the cards, but United’s grafters stayed on level terms for 36 minutes, when Gabriel Jesus nodded into the net.

And while City dominated possession and created plenty of chances, the tie stubbornly refused to be put to bed.

With 15 minutes left United were still only one goal away from forcing a penalty shoot-out, but just as it looked they were building up some pressure, City broke and Riyad Mahrez’s assured finish doubled the lead.

Although Phil Foden added a third in stoppage-time, United left the field to a standing ovation from the home fans, who had watched their side stand up to one of the best sides in the world.

Now they need to do it regularly in League One, starting at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Both managers were true to their pre-match indications and made changes.

Robinson made four – Sam Long coming in for his first U’s start in almost two years, while Cameron Brannagan, Rob Dickie and Jon Obika were also brought into the XI.

City may have changed ten of their players, but it could not be described as a weakened line-up. Vincent Kompany, John Stones, David Silva and Mahrez were among the big names to start, while Pep Guardiola had the considerable talents of Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane in reserve if he needed a Plan B.

The visitors meant business and United’s players would quickly have been breathless as City fizzed the ball around, winning four corners in the first ten minutes.

Robinson’s side were having to work overtime to close down the space and on 19 minutes a wonderful run and cross by Silva saw Jesus score, but the offside flag ruled it out.

United’s fans were quickly chant ‘olé’ as their side responded by stringing together a sequence of first-time passes which had the Premier League stars chasing the ball for the first time.

While a foul on Shandon Baptiste, captain for the night, went unpunished, Obika hassled goalkeeper Aro Muric into a hurried clearance out of play. It was met by a roar from the home fans, who were relishing their side competing against City.

The visitors had most of the ball, but clear chances were at a premium. Jonathan Mitchell’s first save was to parry a long-range effort from Oleksandr Zinchenko midway through the half, while Curtis Nelson cleared a goal-bound header from Kompany.

United’s best opening came on the half-hour mark, when Baptiste stormed forward, but his pass was a fraction late for Obika, who ran offside.

Just as the underdogs might have been eyeing the safety of the half-time interval, City opened the scoring.

Referee Roger East played advantage when Luke Garbutt caught Mahrez, who sprayed the ball across field to Brahim Diaz. His shot was half-blocked by Nelson, but rebounded kindly for Jesus to nod in at the back post.

While Mahrez curled a shot just wide as City looked for a quick second, United held on to reach the interval only one goal adrift.

The disparities between the sides were brought home ten minutes after the break, when Brannagan and Diaz both picked up knocks and had to come off.

While Josh Ruffels was introduced for United, Guardiola brought on Sterling.

It meant a tough assignment for Long, but the defender appeared to relish coming up against the England international.

What the hosts needed was a chance. Ricky Holmes had their first effort of the night midway through the second half, but from range it flew wide.

City continued to threaten, but the game proved tough to put to bed. Mitchell saved from Mahrez, while Jesus fired into the car park, where more than a dozen fans were stood on car roofs watching the game.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes, United began to grow in confidence and pushed their opponents back for the first time.

But it inevitably left space, which City ruthlessly exploited on the break. Phil Foden’s pass released Mahrez, who smashed a shot past Mitchell.

The goalkeeper made a stunning save late on to deny Foden and then made a big block on Sterling.

United were still pressing and hassling into stoppage-time, which meant they left space for Foden to add a third goal.

It hardly mattered and the home side were cheered off by an appreciative capacity crowd.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Mitchell, Long, Nelson, Dickie, Garbutt, Hanson (Henry 67), Baptiste, Whyte, Brannagan (Ruffels 55), Holmes (Smith 77), Obika.

Unused subs: Shearer, McMahon, Mousinho, Raglan.

Booked: Dickie, Garbutt.

Manchester C (4-1-4-1): Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Stones, Mahrez (Bernabe 85), D Silva (Gundogan 62), Foden, Diaz (Sterling 55), Jesus.

Unused subs: Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Sane.

Booked: Danilo.

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 11,956 (1,247 visitors).