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City squeeze past Everton, enter Capital One Cup Final

Aguero heads home the winner that took Manchester City to the final of the Capital One Cup. Photo: The Guardian
Aguero heads home the winner that took Manchester City to the final of the Capital One Cup. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Aguero heads home the winner that took Manchester City to the final of the Capital One Cup. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Manchester City overturned a first-leg deficit against Everton to set up a Capital One Cup final with Liverpool after a thrilling game at the Etihad.

Everton looked on course for another Merseyside derby, at Wembley, when Ross Barkley’s brilliant run and 20-yard shot added to their 2-1 advantage from the first leg in the 18th minute, but manager Roberto Martinez was left with a burning sense of injustice after an enthralling encounter turned on a controversial decision.

After Fernandinho’s deflected shot put City level on the night, substitute Kevin de Bruyne turned home Raheem Sterling’s cross with 20 minutes left on the clock to give the Manchester team the lead. Until then, Everton were solid in defence and potent on the counter, but the manner of De Bruyne’s goal took the wind out of Martinez’s men. Sterling appeared to have run the ball out of play before crossing to the De Bruyne. Everton never recovered from the blow, and later, Sergio Aguero headed De Bruyne’s cross beyond keeper Joel Robles to put the game to bed.

Everton injustice

Everton manager Roberto Martinez told the BBC: “Everyone that has seen the replay can clearly see the ball is out of play when the ball is crossed in for City’s second goal. The tie was a real good football game. You don’t expect to concede a goal in that manner. It’s very, very hard to take.

“City are a very good side. If they score three goals in the right way then you accept it. The first goal was a deflected shot, but for the second goal the ball was clearly out.”

While Sterling’s cross did look to have sent in from beyind the line, the home side will not have sympathy for Everton in this context after being convinced Ramiro Funes Mori scored an offside goal in the first leg and that Jesus Navas was denied a penalty after he was fouled by Kevin Mirallas – but it was easy to understand Martinez’s outspoken frustration.

However, Martinez is taking his side’s performance as a positive, despite the result.

“We have a very good group of young players. I hope we take this display as inspiration.”

Good news, bad news for City

Manchester City can now plan for a Wembley date with Liverpool, who beat them so comfortably 4-1 here at the Etihad earlier this season – but it was a night of mixed news for manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Aguero, whose season has been hampered by injuries, looked back to his blistering best and never gave Everton’s defence a moment’s peace, hitting the post with a superb curling effort then showing his world-class by heading in De Bruyne’s cross for the goal that clinched City’s victory.

The bad news is that injury to the brilliant De Bruyne, who had a huge impact after coming on as sub, scoring that controversial second and setting up the third.

The sight of the 24-year-old being taken off with his knee in a brace put a dampener on an exhilarating night and City will wait anxiously for the medical bulletin.

After the game, Pellegrini said: “I am very happy to play a final at Wembley, it is very important. We deserved to be in the final, we had just one defeat – that was against Everton with a clear penalty. They scored for 1-0 and it was a clear foul.”

“If you think because of that ball [Sterling to de Bruyne], that is not why we won,” he continued. “We won because we scored three goals and Everton had just one chance.”

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