Manchester City are through to their fourth consecutive League Cup final after a convincing 2-0 victory over Manchester United in an entertaining derby.
John Stones’ first goal in over three years and Fernandinho’s in over two proved the difference to ensure a final meeting against Tottenham on April 25 at Wembley. United have now lost their fourth semi-final in 12 months under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The first half saw the ball hit the back of the net three times but they were all chalked off for offside. In the fourth minute, Stones had an own goal ruled out because Marcus Rashford's initial shot was from an offside position before Ilkay Gundogan strayed ahead of the United backline to tap in what looked like the game's opener.
City's stand-in goalkeeper Zack Steffen produced an excellent reflex save to deny Bruno Fernandes in the eighth minute a few moments before Kevin De Bruyne's venomous strike from range smashed off the woodwork; the closest chance of an open first half.
Pep: 'We played better'
The third disallowed goal arrived in the 24th minute when Foden was ahead of play before he slotted the ball through Dean Henderson's legs.
Stones grabbed his first goal in over three years shortly after the break. A low free-kick swung in from the left by Foden lands at the feet of the 26-year-old who bundled it home off his thigh.
The second half continued at a frantic tempo and Dean Henderson, on his Old Trafford debut, produced an excellent fingertip stop to deny Riyad Mahrez just past the hour mark.
United could not find a way through City’s resolute defence and the visitors sealed it in the 82nd minute when 35-year-old Fernandinho coolly volleyed into the net from outside the box, ensuring it is Pep Guardiola’s side who will be walking out onto the Wembley pitch once again.
TALKING POINT - What now for Solskjaer?
In the build-up to this semi-final, Solskjaer said: "It is not just a case of learning how to win them [semi-finals], it is earning the right to go all the way. But we are confident and we are in good form.
There are no excuses.
United played well against City, but ultimately the Norwegian has now led United to four semis and lost all of them. You have to wonder how many more opportunities he will get to lead this team to semi-finals as the disappointing record continues to grow. Two years has been plenty of time to reach at least one final with world-renowned quality players at his disposal.
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MAN OF THE MATCH - Ruben Dias
The central defender put on a fantastic display with timely blocks and interceptions to deny United's dangerous attack from getting any absolute clear-cut opportunities.
The Portugal international will be vital for the remainder of the season with City in genuine contention of mounting a quadruple charge in this most unusual campaign.
John Stones of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal with Ruben Dias during the Carabao Cup Semi Final match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 6, 2021 in Manchester, England
Image credit: Getty Images
Manchester United XI: Henderson (7), Wan-Bissaka (6), Lindelof (6), Maguire (6), Shaw (6), Fred (6), McTominay (6), Pogba (6), Fernandes (7), Rashford (7), Martial (6)
Subs: Greenwood (6), Van de Beek (N/A)
Manchester City XI: Steffen (7), Cancelo (6), Stones (7), Dias (8), Zinchenko (6), Fernandinho (7), Gundogan (7), De Bruyne (6), Mahrez (7), Foden (7), Sterling (6)
Subs: Rodri (N/A)
2' - NO OWN GOAL! A long ball from Henderson reaches Martial, he plays in Rashford whose low driven shot is parried by Steffen, off Stones and into the back of the net! Fortunately for the City defender and Steffen they can breathe a sigh of relief as Rashford's run in behind was deemed offside and confirmed by VAR.
4' - NO GOAL! Another goal ruled out in the opening five minutes! It's been so open as Foden's low ball into the area from the left is tapped in by Gundogan, but he was just in front of the backline and it's rightly chalked off.
8' - GREAT SAVE! Sterling loses the ball in a vital area to McTominay who plays a reverse pass to Fernandes. The Portugal international attempts to curl it into the top corner from outside the box, but Steffen does excellently well to tip it away for a corner!
13' - OFF THE POST! From outside the area, De Bruyne rifles a venomous strike on goal, it has the better of Henderson but it smashes off the woodwork! That was so unlucky.
24' - NO GOAL! The third time a goal has been chalked off for offside. Zinchenko plays a lovely weighted pass to Foden who outpaces Wan-Bissaka and finishes through Henderson's legs, but it's been ruled out.
50' - GOAL!!! Stones gives City the lead! Foden's cross from a free-kick into the area reaches Stones at the far post. It's a low ball which bounces off him and into the net! He scores his first goal in over three years!
55' - GOOD SAVE! City counter and Gundogan chooses Foden on his left. He floats a ball into the penalty box and Sterling's header is a good one, but Henderson does well to get down low and tip it around the post!
62' - BRILLIANT SAVE! Mahrez surges through the heart of the United defence and he curls a shot aiming for the top corner, but Henderson once again produces a fine save to tip it over! Henderson has had an excellent game so far.
82' - GOAL!! A stunning second from City as Fernandinho smashes the ball into the bottom corner! That must seal it! A corner is headed clear straight to the Brazlian outside the area who showed phenomenal technique to volley the ball past a helpless Henderson! It's the 35-year-old's first goal in over two years.