MANCHESTER, England. — Holders Manchester City took a big step towards another League Cup showpiece with a 3-1 win over Manchester United in their semi-final, first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
City outclassed their neighbors in the first half, going in 3-0 at the break with goals from Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal before United regrouped and avoided what could have been a more emphatic defeat.
“We could have gone in four or five up at halftime, we had the chances. They pressed us higher in the second half, we got tired but overall we are happy,” said Bernardo Silva.
The hosts suffered a blow before kick off with their 80 million pounds ($104.94 million) central defender Harry Maguire failing a fitness test and Phil Jones was handed a rare start.
City manager Pep Guardiola opted to play without a recognized striker, giving midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva license to push forward centrally.
With Raheem Sterling and Mahrez on the wings, the approach worked superbly against a flimsy-looking defence.
It was a brilliant strike from Bernardo Silva that put City ahead in the 17th minute, the winger cutting in from the right before unleashing a superb shot into the far, top corner.
The busy Portugal international then created City’s second in the 33rd, collecting a poor headed clearance from Victor Lindelof and dancing past a challenge before threading the ball to Mahrez who rounded goalkeeper David de Gea and slotted home.
City then punished United with a counter-attack which ended with De Bruyne leaving Jones on the ground and blasting goalwards before De Gea’s parry ricocheted off United midfielder Pereira into his own net after 38 minutes.
United looked more solid after the introduction of midfielder Nemanja Matic at the break and got a foothold in the tie through a 70th-minute goal from Marcus Rashford.
The England striker was picked out by a perfectly-weighted pass from Mason Greenwood and coolly slipped the ball past keeper Claudio Bravo. – Reuters