Derby win sends City into fourth consecutive Carabao Cup Final
Manchester City have reached the Carabao Cup final for the fourth year in a row after beating Manchester United 2-0 in an entertaining Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
John Stones steered in Phil Foden’s free-kick to give Pep Guardiola’s side the lead early in the second half and Fernandinho scored a wonderful 20-yard volley to seal a deserved victory and set up a final meeting with Tottenham Hotspur.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off in memory of Colin Bell, who passed away on Tuesday, and City’s performance was a fitting tribute to a man widely regarded as one of the Club's greatest ever players.
Last month’s Premier League meeting between the two sides was characterised by its conservative feel, but the shackles were released from the off for this cup clash, in which an entertaining first half produced everything but the decisive breakthrough.
Within five minutes both teams had goals disallowed, Marcus Rashford straying offside before his saved shot rebounded off Stones and into the back of the net, with Ilkay Gundogan also flagged for the same offence as he steered in Foden’s low cross.
United looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Zack Steffen was at full stretch to keep out Bruno Fernandes’ curling 18-yard effort, but with City reproducing the rhythm that yielded success at Chelsea, it was Guardiola’s side who enjoyed the greater control. Kevin De Bruyne cracked the post with a 20-yard drive that had Dean Henderson well beaten before the visitors had a second goal ruled out for offside when Foden set off too early on his way to nutmegging the United goalkeeper.
The tempo dropped before the break, but Stones struck early in the second half after Foden’s centre evaded everyone in the United area to breathe new life into the contest and from there, City turned the screw.
A slick counter-attack finished with Sterling's header forcing a good stop from Henderson, before another break saw the United ‘keeper make a fantastic fingertip save to deny Mahrez from the edge of the area.
United’s midfield started to probe as they bid to get back into the game, but City blunted the host’s attack, with their best efforts coming in the form of two Fernandes’ efforts, one which bounced tamely into Steffen’s arms from 20-yards and another from inside the area which flew well wide.
Despite the slender lead, City looked relatively comfortable and so it proved as Fernandinho wrapped up the victory in emphatic fashion.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s headed clearance from De Bruyne’s corner only reached the edge of the area, where the Brazilian was waiting to rifle a 20-yard volley into the bottom corner to all but end United's hopes of a fightback.
MAN OF THE MATCH - JOHN STONES
Will no doubt have breathed a sigh of relief after Rashford was flagged offside following what would have been his own goal, but it was another fine performance.
His developing partnership with Ruben Dias comfortably managed United's attacking threat for the most part and his goal swung a finely balanced tie in City's favour.
City have now had 16 different goalscorers in all competitions this season, more than any other Premier League team.
WHAT IT MEANS
City become just the second team in the history of the League Cup to reach four consecutive finals, after Liverpool, who did so between 1981 and 1984.
We'll face Spurs at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 25 April, following the EFL's decision in December to delay the final in the hope more fans will be able to attend.
City are back in action on Sunday lunch-time when we welcome Birmingham City to the Etihad Stadium for an FA Cup third round tie. Kick-off is at 13:30 (UK).
Our Premier League campaign resumes next Wednesday, 13 January, with a home game against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Manchester United (0): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw; Fred (Van de Beek, 88’), McTominay (Greenwood, 75’), Pogba; Martial, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford
Manchester City (2): Steffen; Cancelo, Stones, Rúben Dias, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Gündogan (Rodri, 79’); Mahrez, Foden, Sterling
Goals: 0-1, Stones (50’), 0-2, Fernandinho (83’)
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Bookings: Fernandinho (47’), Fred (69’), Cancelo (78’), Shaw (91’)