Man Utd suffer semi-final despair again as unlikely scorers send City to EFL Cup final

Date published: Wednesday 6th January 2021 9:37 - Samuel Bannister

Manchester City showed why they have a stranglehold on the Carabao Cup by beating Manchester United 2-0 to book their place in the final.

The last league meeting between the two rivals had been a disappointing affair, but they went into this game highly motivated.

United lost three cup semi-finals last season, so were hoping to go at least one step further. City, meanwhile, were hoping to retain the competition they had won the past three editions of.

As a result, the game started in lively fashion. Both sides had goals ruled out in the opening five minutes.

First, City goalkeeper Zack Steffen parried the ball away, but it deflected onto defender John Stones, who could not do anything but divert it into his own net.

There was a sigh of relief for the reigning holders, though, as the flag went up for an offside in the buildup.

Next, it was City’s turn to be denied by the other assistant referee. Phil Foden played the ball across to Ilkay Gundogan, who supplied the finishing touch, only to discover he too was offside.

The action was already simmering. United went close when Bruno Fernandes curled an effort towards goal from outside the box, forcing a fingertip save from Steffen.

Much of the attention in the buildup to the game was on who would inspire their team the most between United’s Fernandes and City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Incidentally, it was the City man who went close next, striking the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the box.

There was a third disallowed goal for offside when Foden was played through before providing a composed finish through the legs of Dean Henderson. However, he had set off on his run too early.

United kept putting on pressure as well. Marcus Rashford failed to control a pass from Fred that would have led to a one-on-one chance, and Scott McTominay fired over with a shot from distance.

Both sides had shown promise in the first half, but had been unable to break the deadlock. That soon changed after the break.

Stones opens scoring

City opened the scoring in the 50th minute after winning a free kick out wide. Foden sent it in with an outswinging cross, which eventually made its way to Stones.

The defender bundled home with the upper part of his leg to give his side the advantage.

Stones has been revitalised recently, earning praise for his performances at the back. It seems he has found inspiration at the opposite end of the pitch, too; that was his first goal for City since 2017.

Another City defender tried his luck next, as Joao Cancelo sent an effort just over the crossbar.

Just like in the first half, the game was quickly opening up, and City had another chance after a counter-attack. Foden picked out Raheem Sterling, whose header was clawed away by Henderson.

The England keeper was called into action again when he tipped over an effort from Riyad Mahrez that looked to be heading into the top corner before his intervention.

Fernandinho doubles lead

Despite their efforts to keep the scoreline down, United were left stunned when Fernandinho doubled City’s lead in the final 10 minutes.

The ball came to the midfielder after a corner, and he caught his opponents off-guard by sending it into the bottom corner on the volley.

Just like the previous scorer, it ended a long wait for a goal for the City player. Fernandinho had not found the back of the net since October 2018, but that would have come as a surprise given the nature of his strike.

It meant a repeat of the outcome of last year’s semi-final between the two rivals. Once again, City overcame their rivals without conceding.

Hence, Pep Guardiola’s side will compete in the Carabao Cup final for a fourth season in a row. They will do battle with Tottenham for the trophy at Wembley in April.

 

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