Goal scorers John Stones and Fernandinho secured a fourth consecutive Carabao Cup crown for Manchester City, though Manchester United lost their fourth consecutive semifinal. Since 2016, Pep Guardiola’s side have not conceded defeat in the competition and will face Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho in the final on April 25 after crushing their neighbors at an empty Old Trafford.
From the rejuvenated Stones and Fernandinho’s first since October 2018, a first City goal since November 2017 gave the Carabao Cup kings a 2-0 victory at United, losing their fourth consecutive semifinal, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to wait for his first trophy as coach. The final is set: see you, @ManCity! at Wembley. #THFC #COYS pic.twitter.com/TBIT7fVekm- Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 6, 2021This match was much more fun than last month’s derby goalless draw. After both sides had a goal disallowed for offside, Bruno Fernandes struggled to beat Zack Steffen and Kevin De Bruyne hit the post. Such events all happened in a frantic first quarter of an hour, and before the first half ended with City dominating possession, a Phil Foden goal was disallowed for offside. United held firm until the 50th minute, after a dubious clearance, when Stones converted a Foden free kick. In the game, Dean Henderson kept United, but Fernandin ended any hopes of a return on a night when City paid their final respects to the great Colin Bell, who died at the age of 74 on Tuesday afternoon. John Stones shot City into the lead (Shaun Botterill/PA) The visitors came onto the pitch wearing retro number eight jerseys to pay homage to the former international England and during the minute’s silence their former team-mate Mike Summerbee was understandably emotional. The semi-final started with a tense game in which within the first five minutes both sides struggled to concede a goal. When Marcus Rashford’s shot into his own goal was ruled offside before Ilkay Gundogan ran past the back line of the home side to head in a Foden cross, Stones was relieved. As both sides pushed for an early goal, the intense opening period began, with City goalkeeper Steffen making a superb save to keep out Fernandes’ shot with one hand. The side of Pep Guardiola celebrated the goal of Fernandinho (Peter Powell/PA) De Bruyne had the next chance for the visitors shortly after he pulled his shot off from 20 yards, but Henderson failed to reach the post. The game settled down gradually and City took control of the game, playing quick passes but being vigilant in their attempts to break down the backline of the United. Foden became the third player whose first-half goal, after breaking through and outwitting Henderson in the 24th minute, was disallowed for offside. In the first half, the visitors had 68% possession, but United was still dangerous: Rashford was free before the goal, but Ruben Dias denied it. Aymeric Laporte (@Laporte) January 6, 2021United’s forwards made life tough for the City backline, and before halftime, both sides had optimistic penalty appeals turned down. The side of Solskjaer had defended well against the challenge of the visitors, but in the 50th minute they were denied by a free kick. From the left, Foden brought the ball in and Stones was able to get past Henderson between Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. The video assistant to the referee gave the green light. Joao Cancelo fired just above the target, and Henderson had to summon all his abilities moments later to parry a Raheem Sterling header. What a goal! #EFL | #CarabaoCup pic.twitter.com/WqacYviLqF- Carabao Cup (@Carabao Cup) January 6, 2021 As the visitors added to the excitement of the game after a header from Captain Maguire and a shot from Fernandes missed the mark, the replacement goalkeeper of the United States was still able to keep out a long-range shot from Riyad Mahrez. In the 83rd minute, when a De Bruyne corner was cleared into the path of the Brazilian international, who fired a rich low shot from outside the box past Henderson, Fernandinho ended United’s hopes of reaching the final.