Tevez produces moment of brilliance to quell Gunners

Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0

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).

Semi-final draw

Manchester City v Manchester Utd, Blackburn v Aston Villa

Ties to be played 5/6 & 19/20 January

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel: