MAN UTD 0, MAN CITY 2
Rare goals from John Stones and Fernandinho brought derby delight to Manchester City who became only the second team to reach four successive finals of the Carabao Cup.
Stones, with his first goal since November 2017 and Fernandinho since October 2018 earned City a remarkable 14th cup final in 10 years after their triumph at Old Trafford.
But it was a case of the semi-final blues striking again for the Reds.
Remarkably this was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fourth loss in the last four of a knockout in 12 months.
Last season they fell just short in the Carabao Cup, Emirates FA Cup and Europa League.
But they were unable to extend their unbeaten run against City to four matches as they were the team which will be heading to Wembley on April 25.Embed from Getty Images
It was a win City dedicated to Colin Bell, the City legend, who died yesterday aged 74 as Guardiola said: “It was a sad day foe the Manchester City family.
“Now we are in the present, but he was the past and an exceptional player who has a strand named after him.
“It was a great night for us and we dedicated it to Colin and his family.”
Stones added: “I’d like to send our condolences for Colin Bell and his family.
“I think how we played today was a reflection of him. A great moment for us and hopefully he is looking down on us. It was a great occasion, another win against another of the top teams.
“[Pep Guardiola] just said ‘same again, same mentality, same everything’. We dealt with the problems well and just tried to be more clinical in the final third.
“We had so many chances, great chances, great moves to get into the box and we did a job at the end of the day.”
While Guardiola was delighted, there was disappointment for Solskjaer.
He said: “Manchester City can score many great goals. You can accept that. When you concede two simple set-plays, it’s very disappointing. We were just not good enough in those moments.
“We didn’t create enough big chances. They didn’t either. We didn’t have the extra finesse we’ve had in the games lately. We weren’t good enough today.
“We played against a very good Manchester City team. They played well. When they play well you have to play very well to beat them. We were just lacking that little bit.
“We’re getting closer. This is a much better version of United than a year ago in those semis.
“It’s not psychological [losing in four semis]. Sometimes you meet good teams in the semis. We met City who are probably the best team in England.”
United made two changes from the side that beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League last time out.
Back-up keeper Dean Henderson came in for David De Gea and Victor Lindelof for Eric Bailly.
Two changes for the other side of Manchester, too, after their 3-1 win over Chelsea at the weekend – Fernandinho for Rodri and Riyad Mahrez replacing the suspended Bernardo Silva.
City goalkeeper Scott Carson and midfielder Cole Palmer have tested positive for Covid and will now isolate taking the total of City players who have tested positive since Christmas Day to eight.
City’s first choice keeper Ederson is still isolating, so 18-year-old James Trafford was on the bench tonight.
But Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker had recovered from 10 days in isolation with the virus and were named on the bench.
It was a night tinged with sadness at Old Trafford following the death of legendary City and England midfielder Bell.
City’s players wore retro number eight shirts as they make their way onto the Old Trafford pitch in Bell’s honour.
There was one minute’s silence and both teams wore black armbands.
Both sides had the ball in the net in the opening five minutes with each effort ruled out for a clear offside.
Marcus Rashford had strayed off before forcing a save from Zack Steffen and the ball ricocheting in off John Stones.
City’s Ilkay Gundogan was also caught as he diverted Phil Foden’s cross into the net from six yards.
Steffen then mad a superb flying save to turn away Bruno Fernandes’ effort which was destined for the top corner. This one would have counted.
Kevin De Bruyne struck the upright in the 13th minute after being set up by Raheem Sterling in a lively opening.
City had the ball in the net for a second time mid-half, but this time Foden was flagged before bursting clear on the left on to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s pass.
The remainder of the opening period was stalemate and, though City enjoyed 68 per cent possession, they managed only three goal attempts and none on target, the first time this has happened this season.
United, meanwhile, managed five, but only one forced a save.
City made the all-important breakthrough within five minutes of the restart after Scott McTominay conceded a free kick on the left.
Foden whipped in a dangerous dead ball which hit Stones who seemed to know little about it until the ball nestled in the net for his first goal in club football since 2017.
United were forced to become more adventurous and were caught on the break as Foden crossed for Sterling whose header forced a flying save from Henderson. That came not long after a drive from Joao Cancelo cleared the crossbar by inches.
City opened up again as Mahrez ran from deep before forcing a fabulous stop from Henderson to turn over his drive.
United needed new attacking ideas and, with 15 minutes left, brought on Mason Greenwood for McTominay.
City looked to add more muscle to the midfield as Mahrez was replaced by Rodri.
They sealed victory in the 83rd minute when De Bruyne’s corner was headed clear but only to Fernandinho who volleyed home from outside the box to become City’s 16th different goalscorer this season.
That prompted Solskjaer to replace Fred with Donny van de Beek, but there was no way back for the Reds who left the field dejected while City were jubilant.