City show no mercy to Hammers
Manchester City ease into League Cup final with 9-0 aggregate win
Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo lifts the ball over the advancing Jussi Jaaskelainen to score his second and City’s third goal against West Ham. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
West Ham 0 Manchester City 3
Sam Allardyce had mused after West Ham United’s League Cup quarter-final win at Tottenham Hotspur, in the knowledge that it would be Manchester City next, that the competition’s format had a flaw. “It is a shame,” the West Ham manager said, “that the semi-final could not be over one leg.” He suggested that West Ham might have a chance were that one-off tie at Upton Park.
The events here did little to strengthen the hypothesis. Yes, this semi-final was already over, after the mauling that City had dished out in the first leg, but the manner in which they strolled to victory on the night suggested that they would have been happy to play West Ham whenever and wherever.
City looked sharp even as they played within themselves and the only question, from the moment that Álvaro Negredo nodded them into an early lead, concerned the number of goals that they would deign to score: how severely they would punish West Ham. An utter rout appeared to be on for them but City settled on the three, and nine overall, with Sergio Agüero and Negredo, again, doing the damage. Such is their confidence, they will surely hope that Manchester United, rather than Sunderland, provide the opposition in the Wembley final.
Gallows humour framed the occasion. West Ham boasted only one hat-trick in the team and that was Roger Johnson with his three relegations. Forget City’s quest for the quadruple, the defender is on for his own version. A local bookmaker had advertised the return on a 7-0 West Ham victory in his window: the keys to the shop. “Being realistic,” wrote Sam Allardyce in his programme notes, with glorious understatement “we are unlikely to overturn our first-leg deficit.”
West Ham, and only West Ham, had been in this situation before. In 1990, they crashed to a then League Cup semi-final record 6-0 loss to Oldham Athletic. A line for the historians: they won the return leg 3-0.
Manuel Pellegrini had made eight changes to the lineup that beat Cardiff City on Saturday to extend City’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 matches but he was able to include Agüero from the off for the first time since mid-December. Arguably the Premier League’s most lethal striker was not exactly what West Ham wanted to see.
It took precisely two minutes and 36 seconds for the East End dream to die. Perhaps it was Agüero’s presence inside the penalty area that brought on James Tomkins’ brain-fade. Either way, the West Ham centre-half drifted away from Negredo and another of the league’s most lethal strikers headed Marcos Lopes’s left-wing cross past the exposed Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Upton Park featured swaths of empty seats. Tickets were still pricey and the real surprise was that so many turned up for the most hopeless cause in memory. Cup semi-final fever had hardly gripped. There was ironic calls of “Ole!” when West Ham strung a few passes together on 21 minutes.
WEST HAM UTD: Jaaskelainen, Taylor, Johnson, Tomkins, Rat, Diarra, Morrison, Diame (Collison 89), Nolan, Joe Cole (Downing 47), Carroll (Carlton Cole 46). Subs not used: Jarvis, Adrian, Noble, Chambers. Booked: Diarra.
MANCHESTER CITY: Pantilimon, Boyata, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy, Jesus Navas (Kolarov 79), Javi Garcia (Rodwell 63), Fernandinho, Lopes, Negredo, Aguero (Jovetic 65). Subs not used: Hart, Zabaleta, Dzeko, Demichelis. Booked: Aguero, Clichy.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).
Attendance: 14, 390