City join Arsenal in League Cup semis after penalty drama

City join Arsenal in League Cup semis after penalty drama

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LONDON: Manchester City’s stellar season gathered yet more momentum as the runaway Premier League leaders kept alive their hopes of a quadruple after holding off a spirited challenge from Leicester City to reach the League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola showcased the riches at his disposal by making nine changes as his team held their nerve to edge through 4-3 on spot-kicks after the two sides were locked at 1-1 following extra time.

Arsenal, one of the sides trying vainly to catch City in the league, also battled into the last four by beating London rivals West Ham United 1-0 with a Danny Welbeck goal at The Emirates.

In an ironic twist at the King Power Stadium Jamie Vardy — who had earlier scored a penalty deep into time added on to keep the tie alive — missed his spot kick in the shootout and Riyad Mahrez had his effort saved by City keeper Claudio Bravo.

“The way we had to react [after Leicester’s penalty] was not easy, we were tired, we had a lot of young players, Danilo was playing at centre-back for the first time in his life,” said Guardiola. “It’s not easy because Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were there.

“What I liked the most is how we reacted and overcame that situation. It’s a good indication for the future.”

The visitors looked to have booked a semi-final place with a first-half Bernardo Silva goal until Leicester were awarded a soft looking penalty seven minutes into stoppage time which Vardy converted to take it beyond 90 minutes.

City, already being hailed as one of the finest sides of the modern era, can still take a clean sweep of trophies this term with Guardiola’s side 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League and in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

LEICESTER: Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo celebrates after saving the final Leicester City penalty to win the shootout in their League Cup quarter-final at the King Power Stadium.—AFP
But Guardiola downplayed the chance of a quadruple.

“That is not going to happen. Of course not,” he said. “Come on, that isn’t real. What we’re living isn’t real.

“The situation of winning 16 or 17 games in a row in the league and qualifying for the Champions League before we finished the group stage, and now we’re here playing with a lot of young players. That is not normal.

“In football you drop points and you lose competitions. I am not thinking about how many titles, I am thinking about the next game.”

Welbeck scored the only goal of a forgettable game shortly before half time as Arsenal booked a place in the semi-finals for the first time in six years.

Welbeck’s persistence in bundling home from close range was one of the few highlights, a solitary shot on target, in a dull derby but David Moyes’ side never threatened Arsenal, with a wayward Aaron Cresswell free kick proving their best effort.

courtesy Dawn News

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