Manchester, England – Manchester City reached its fourth straight League Cup final as second-half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho gave Pep Guardiola’s side a 2-0 win over Manchester United in Wednesday’s League Cup semifinal at Old Trafford.
City will meet Tottenham, led by manager Jose Mourinho, in the final at Wembley on April 25 as the club goes for its fourth straight League Cup title.
The match got off to a frantic start, with both teams having efforts waved off after offsides calls — Stones turned the ball into his own net while teammate Ilkay Gundogan had a goal called back.
City’s Kevin De Bruyne struck the post with a thundering drive from outside the box before Phil Foden put the ball in the net only to also have it waved off for offsides.
It was an open and entertaining game. City was the sharper of the two sides, but United was competitive throughout as it sought revenge for last year’s defeat, when the clubs met at the same stage of the competition.
City went ahead five minutes after the break when Foden whipped in a free kick from the left through a crowded box and Stones bundled a cross home at the back post.
United ‘keeper Dean Henderson produced a brilliant save to tip over a strike from Riyad Mahrez, after the Algerian burst forward from the halfway line.
Fernandinho secured the win for City with a stunning volley after pouncing on a headed clearance from Aaron Wan-Bissaka with seven minutes remaining.
United’s last four Cup campaigns have ended in the semifinal round, leaving manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still in search of his first final since taking over as manager.
“We’re getting closer,” he said. “This is a much better version of United than a year ago in those semis.
“It’s not psychological, sometimes you meet good teams in the semis. City are probably the best team in England at the moment,” he added.
City’s players entered the field wearing No. 8 shirts in tribute to former player Colin Bell who died on Tuesday. Guardiola said they honored his memory.
“It’s for Colin Bell and his family,” Guardiola said. “He helped to build something special for this club. It’s an incredible victory for us to beat United away and it was for him absolutely.”
“The team is ready and it was an outstanding performance. We dipped a little bit in the second half, we were tired…but when the team has this mentality they can do something incredible. It’s not the Champions League but four times in a row to reach the final — I’m so impressed,” he said.
Guardiola said it took Stones a lot longer than expected to rediscover his best form but he praised the Englishman’s perseverance. Stones has struggled with injuries and poor form in recent campaigns but has found his rhythm this season.
“All credit for him,” Guardiola said. “In a long career, you always have ups and downs. Unfortunately, he struggled longer than we expected and he expected — but his comeback is absolutely down to him.
“He made another outstanding performance. But the most important thing he has been able to do — something he has struggled with the past three or four years — is play four, five, six games in a row. This is so important.”
Stones, who faced questions about his future at the club last season, credited his resurgence to hard work.
“I’m trying to play as many games as I can … give everything for the shirt. Staying true to myself, to what I can do and what I can improve on,” Stones told Sky Sports.
“Playing in these big games is something I thrive off, the team thrives off. I’m trying to improve as much as I can.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.