City hit nine past Burton in cruise to League Cup final
HOLDERS Manchester City can look for ward to defending the League Cup in next month’s final at Wembley as Gabriel Jesus struck four goals in a 9-0 t hrashing of Burton Albion in t heir semi-final, first leg on Wednesday.
Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez were also on target against Nigel Clough’s League One side as Cit y ensured t heir v isit to t he Pirelli Stadium on Januar y 23 is a mere formalit y.
“Of course we are a lready in the final. We have to play second leg and we will ta ke it seriously. Happy to be in t he final again,” said Cit y boss Pep Guardiola.
“It’s not easy to play t his k ind of game. We spoke (before the game) to ta ke it seriously, we sta rted well.”
After a lso thrashing Rotherham 7-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday with a much-changed side, Guardiola was able to again hand a rest to a number of his key players but named a strong side with De Bruyne continuing his comeback from injur y.
And the Belgian set the tone for the evening by heading Cit y into a fifthminute lead as he timed his run into the box perfectly to head home Dav id Si lva’s cross.
Clough admitted before the game it would ta ke a “miracle” for Burton to blunt the Premier League champions’ might over t wo legs.
“We didn’t expect any thing less given t he gulf in class bet ween t he teams, we actua lly feared it could be more,” said Clough, a t wo-time League Cup winner as a player under his father Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest.
“We’ve made histor y with t he club getting to t he last four of a Cup competition. Once we saw the three teams (in t he semi-finals) it was a lways going to be trouble.”
So it proved, but t he v isitors missed a glorious chance to get st ra ight back on level terms when Marcus Harness blasted over Lucas Akins’s cross when completely unmarked inside t he penalt y box.
It took Cit y until the half hour mark to double their advantage, but a glut of three goals in seven minutes followed to put t he tie to bed before t he brea k.
Jesus headed home his first from close range after Bradley Collins had denied Leroy Sane before the Bra zilian slotted home Silva’s cushioned pass v ia t he inside of t he post.
Competition for places
“Players like me want to play more, to help the team, and we went out t here to win,” said Jesus.
Cit y didn’t need any luck, but still got some when Zinchenko’s intended cross then looped over Collins to make it 4-0.
Other sides may have slacked off in the second period, but with competition for places so fierce among Guardiola’s side, t he hosts were r ut hless to match t he Catalan’s biggest ever win as a coach.
Jesus powered home a header to complete his second hat-trick of t he season.
De Bruyne was then replaced by home favourite Foden, who was surprisingly lef t out t he stat ing XI, just before the hour mark.
It took just four minutes for t he 18-year-old to score his t hird Cit y goal as he profited from the rebound af ter Collins did well to parr y Jesus’s first ef for t.
Jesus did soon have his fourth with a delicate finish f rom Sane’s cross and City’s dominance was summed up when right-back Kyle Walker strode for ward to fire home his side’s eight h of t he evening.
Mahrez made it nine seven minutes from time and those Cit y fans st ill in t he Etihad cried for a historic 10t h.
But that was the only thing City fell short of on the night with a final meeting against Tottenham or Chelsea on February 24 guaranteed.
Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus heads the ball to score his third goal and City’s fifth during the League Cup first leg semi-final agianst Burton Albion at the Etihad stadium in Manchester on Wednesday.