Tevez produces moment of brilliance to quell Gunners
Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0
Thursday 03 December 2009
They switched off the floodlights, projected the image of a blue moon across the East Stand and decked all the fans out with flags before kick-off last night. No pressure, gentlemen, but after 28 years without a cup semi-final of any description, east Manchester was expecting some theatre.
Whatever the controversies and sub-plots of the night, City delivered, with Carlos Tevez, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Craig Bellamy dazzling in the extreme. Their goals, taken with a first for the club by Vladimir Weiss, one of the young breed who some had feared might be elbowed out by the City juggernaut, will live in City lore for many a long year.
Don't let anything Arsène Wenger might say take anything from this. The match-up of the sides is a necessary part of the perspective this morning – just two of Manchester City's substitutes weighed at a value of £38m while Alex Song was Arsenal's only survivor from September's 4-2 league win – but it was not quite the meeting of unequal forces which Wenger posited in his ungracious conclusions. Arsenal's side, average age 23, was seasoned enough and City were lumbered with a knowledge of what were the awful, symbolic consequences of defeat. The unpalatable truth for Wenger is that his Carling Cup team, just like his Premier League side, is fragile enough for a side of attacking force like Hughes' to blow them away.
Everyone was ready with the ammunition, from the projection room man to the City's fans, with chants on hand for an Arsenal contingent intent on howling down Emmanuel Adebayor for his 100m sprint to celebrate his last goal against them. "Adebayor, Adebayor, runs 100 metres in 10.4," they sang.
What followed was the most complete half of football that this tournament will offer all season: City, striving to lift themselves from the torpor of the seven league draws, probing every inch available to them with Wright-Phillips' resurrection from recent weeks making the night a truly wretched one for Armand Traoré. The game was three minutes old when the right-winger skinned him, crossed low and Mikaël Silvestre hacked clear.
City's intent was written in the nature of their goals. Tevez had been slightly eclipsed when the 50th minute ticked up and he robbed Tomas Rosicky, who was fiddling with a ball on the right touchline, exchanged passes with Bellamy and ran on, past Emmanuel Eboué, inside Song and before Silvestre could place a challenge, had unleashed a shot of unstoppable force with thumped the underside of the cross bar and fell over the line.
The question posed almost immediately was whether City would surrender another lead. Aaron Ramsey should have punished them when Carlos Vela lofted a ball up to him but he headed over. But this was a night of redemption for Joleon Lescott, in particular. The faintest touch of his boot saved three dicey first-half situations as Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were given more encouragement in front of the back four than might have been the case had Nigel de Jong been deployed.
Then Wright-Phillips' own signature goal: Rosicky again the man dispossessed, by Stephen Ireland, who sent the Englishman on a slalom run of his own beyond Silvestre. A delicate feint later the ball was hitting the top right-hand corner of the net. Bellamy had just forced a point blank save when he bisected Song and Wilshere, ran a ball between Silvestre's legs and found Weiss who fired his first City goal in off the upright in the last minute.
Hughes blew out his cheeks. It was a victory of some symbolism which, more significantly than perhaps the most anticipated Carling Cup semi-final of all time, will buy him time to build. Now for Chelsea, Bolton, Tottenham and Sunderland – tough, sides that City have found less accommodating. Can they draw strength from one night of theatre?
Manchester City (4-4-2): Given; Richards, Touré, Lescott, Bridge; Ireland, Barry, Wright-Phillips (Weiss, 77), Tevez (Kompany 74); Bellamy, Adebayor. Substitutes not used: Onuoha, Johnson, Robinho, Taylor (gk), Santa Cruz.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Fabianski; Eboué, Silvestre, Song, Traoré; Eastmond (Watt 68); Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsay, Merida; Vela. Substitutes not used: Mannone (gk), Bartley, Coquelin, Frimpong, Gilbert, Randall.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Manchester City v Manchester Utd, Blackburn v Aston Villa
Ties to be played 5/6 & 19/20 January
Latest in Sport
UFC 190 Ronda Rousey vs Bethe Correia: What time does it start and where can I watch it, plus Mauricio Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Have Liverpool found the next Luis Suarez? Reds give trial to Uruguayan wonderkid Juan Manuel Sanabria
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho
Ashes 2015: Mitchell Johnson goads England fans as Edgbaston crowd shows little mercy for Australia
- 1 National Orgasm Day: Six reasons (plus one bogus one) why they're good for us
- 2 The 'world's most beautiful vagina' has been debunked by science
- 3 John Green schools morning show hosts after awkward interview with Cara Delevingne
- 4 Doctor Who: Christopher Eccleston says why he left the BBC series after just one series
- 5 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper dies: Wrestling legend dies aged 61, according to reports
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband