Manchester City knocked out city rivals Manchester United in the semi-final stage of the Carabao Cup for the second year running as Pep Guardiola’s men registered a deserved 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
John Stones and Fernandinho were the unlikely goalscorers for the defending champions. The pair bagged second-half strikes to ensure that Manchester City would be making their fourth straight appearance in the final of the cup competition.
An evenly-contested first half saw the ball hit the back of the net thrice, twice for City and once for United, only for VAR to disallow all three efforts.
Kevin de Bruyne hit the post while Bruno Fernandes forced a diving save from Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen as both sides went into the break on level terms.
The visitors went ahead five minutes into the second half, with Stones scoring his first Manchester City goal since November 2017 to put his side ahead in the tie.
Manchester City, who had been good value for their lead, looked the more threatening side throughout. They subsequently doubled their lead through Fernandinho in the 83rd minute.
The two-goal lead proved insurmountable for Manchester United, who lost their fourth straight semi-final encounter. Meanwhile, Manchester City enter their fourth consecutive Carabao Cup final, where they will meet Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur in April.
On that note, here are the hits and flops from an engaging contest at Old Trafford in which Manchester City ran out deserving 2-0 winners.
#1 Hit: John Stones (Manchester City)
From virtual outcast to regular mainstay in the Manchester City backline, it has been a quite remarkable return to form for John Stones.
Alongside Ruben Dias, Stones has formed Manchester City’s unlikely first-choice centre-back pairing and has helped transform a fairly fragile defence to an extremely miserly one this season.
In fact, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s late consolation for Chelsea against Manchester City on Sunday was just the second that they had conceded in the Premier League this season with Stones on the pitch.
The Englishman was absolutely imperious in defence for City against Manchester United in this encounter, showing great pace and positioning throughout the game as he made several important tackles and interceptions to keep attackers at bay.
To cap off an impressive display, Stones also bagged himself a goal, ghosting in at the back post and tapping a Phil Foden free kick off his thigh to register his first goal for his side in over three years.
#2 Flop: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
While both sides were fairly evenly matched for most of the game, the result was tipped in Manchester City’s favour thanks to their superior creativity and finishing. These are qualities that Bruno Fernandes has displayed aplenty during his time with Manchester United. However, he failed to produce on the night.
Having provided the magical touch to single-handedly lift a sub-par Manchester United side to victory on a number of occasions, Fernandes was effectively marked out of the game by the close attentions of Fernandinho & Co. As a result, the Red Devils’ star man struggled to impose himself on proceedings.
There was a lot of intent throughout the game but Fernandes and Manchester United, in general, lacked execution. The Portugal international was largely reduced to taking hopeful pot shots from distance or was hurried into skewing his closer efforts wide.
The trademark accuracy of the playmaker’s passing radar was also off the mark as his through balls often failed to find their intended targets in the face of Manchester City’s dogged defence.
Published 07 Jan 2021, 05:41 IST