Man City, Everton and Stoke exert their power in League Cup wins
Manchester City, Stoke and Everton all advanced to the semifinals of the League Cup Tuesday night, eliminating all remaining lower-league opposition from the competition in the process. Southampton and Liverpool meet Wednesday to decide the final slot.
It was a night that went according to script as the three Premier League sides made easy work of the Championship (second-division) sides with professional displays.
Kevin de Bruyne scored twice and set up a third to lead City past Hull 4-1 in the end — but the match was over after just eleven minutes. Wilfried Bony knocked in a rebound with ease after de Bruyne’s initial shot caromed back off the upright early and there was no looking back. Bony, spelling the injured Sergio Aguero, was in the right place on the far left side to slide the ball past a helpless Eldin Jakupovic.
Hull, who have been dominant this season in the Championship, and had not lost a game in nearly three months until this weekend’s upset at the hands of Derby, proved to be no match for the Citizens. Despite some fine individual play from Arsenal loanees Chuba Akpom and Issac Hayden, the Tigers were never in this one. With City sitting back and content to keep the play ahead of them, Hull had their chances, but were rarely able to truly test keeper Willy Caballero.
De Bruyne nearly netted a second after the break, with Jakupovic beating away a furious shot from long range. Bony could not latch on to the rebound this time, however. The silky David Silva, making his return from injury, turned in a man of the match performance, dictating the pace of the game and lashing a ferocious strike just wide of Jakupovic’s net in the 70th minute.
But the hits kept coming. Fabian Delph tested the keeper before Kelechi Iheanacho added the capper in the 80th on a fine breakaway, with Raheem Sterling fizzing in a cross from the near side that the keeper couldn’t cut out. De Bruyne then got on the scoresheet a few minutes later with a lovely individual goal to end any lingering doubts.
De Bruyne would then blow in a free-kick in the 87th minute with such power Jakupovic couldn’t even move. Moses Odubajo, on the line, jumped to head away the danger â only to see the ball was already behind him.
Hull restored a bit of pride with Andrew Robertson scoring in stoppage to spoil City’s clean sheet. It was a well-worked goal, if too late, and exposed Caballero again as a second-string option for his club.
Elsewhere, Stoke overcame the early loss of Peter Crouch to a hamstring injury to down a tepid Sheffield Wednesday 2-0. Ibrahim Affelay’s volley gave the Potters the lead on the half hour, and they would ride the game out. Phil Bardsley scored off a free kick late to beat keeper Joe Wildsmith to pad the scoreline. In truth, Wednesday were poor on the night after looking so impressive against Arsenal, and Stoke were rarely troubled.
Middlesbrough, who had ejected Manchester United in the last round, were sent packing tonight by Everton, 2-0. Boro had an early goal correctly waved off after Cristian Stuani barreled into keeper Joel Robles while heading the ball into the back of the net.
The play sparked Everton, and right away they made them pay with Gerard Delofeu picking up the ball at midfield and running right through the Boro defense to score with a low shot past Tomas Meijas. Boro’s defense didn’t cover themselves in glory â Ben Gibson was actually put on his rear end by the Spaniard â but the fact is the Toffees were too much for them to handle all night.
Delofeu would set up the second eight minutes later, peeling off a series of stepovers that had Fernando Amorebieta helpless before pushing a fine cross over for Romelu Lukaku to finish.