John Stones impressed while Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial underwhelmed as Manchester City beat Manchester United 2-0 in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The game was off to a lively start as both Manchester United and Manchester City had goals ruled out for offside within ten minutes while Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne also came very close to scoring for their respective teams. Phil Foden also had a goal chalked off for offside not long after, but neither side could open the scoring before half-time.
Just five minutes into the second half, though, Manchester City were in front as John Stones diverted a Phil Foden free-kick into the back of the net. The visitors could have doubled their lead soon after if not for a brilliant save by Dean Henderson to deny Riyad Mahrez.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, meanwhile, could not conjure up any meaningful chances as they chased the game. And with less than ten minutes left, Fernandinho volleyed home from the edge of the box to book Manchester City’s place in the Carabao Cup final and dump Manchester United out of a fourth semi-final over the past year.
Here’s how we rated the performances of both teams on the night at Old Trafford.
Dean Henderson: 6/10
The offside flag came to his aid twice even a both Ilkay Gundogan and Foden scored past him, while he was lucky to see De Bruyne’s effort bounce back off the post after being beaten all ends up. Made a brilliant stop to keep Mahrez out while also making a good save from Raheem Sterling. A little slow to react to Fernandinho’s strike though.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 5.5/10
Was given a tough time by the lively Foden, who got past him on quite a few occasions. This meant that the Manchester United right-back was pinned back in his own half for most of the game. Showed his tacking abilities, winning each of the five attempted (5). It was his clearance that fell to Fernandinho for the visitors’ second goal.
Victor Lindelof: 5.5/10
Back into the starting XI ahead of Eric Bailly, who had been in sublime form in the past few matches, Lindelof was a steady presence for most of the game. Should have done better to try and prevent Foden’s cross from reaching Stones though. Made four clearances – the joint-most by a United player on the night.
Harry Maguire: 5/10
Harry Maguire when the ball comes in from a corner. pic.twitter.com/lSBvhCGgM7
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 1, 2021
Much like his defensive partner, solid and assured for the most part, but was guilty of not dealing with Foden’s set-piece delivery leading to the opening goal. Headed wide on a couple of occasions in the opposition box.
Luke Shaw: 5.5/10
Had a difficult time dealing with the threat of Sterling as well as Mahrez when he moved out wide. Defended fairly steadily, but did not provide much of an outlet in an attacking sense, which Manchester United needed badly.
Scott McTominay: 5/10
Worked hard in the middle of the park but could not assert himself against a top-notch Manchester City midfield unit. Created a chance for Bruno Fernandes in the first period. Gave away the free-kick from which Stones scored the opening goal.
Did the dirty work in the middle of the park as he tried to stem the flow of Manchester City attacks but ultimately lacked that bit of quality to make a difference on the night. Completed two dribbles and a key pass, but could have been more incisive with his distribution.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Looked lively in spurts. Strayed offside easily in a couple of key moments, had a shot blocked by Ruben Dias around the half-hour mark. Should have done better to control a fine long-pass from Fred which could have led to a goal.
Bruno Fernandes: 5/10
🗣️ Roy Keane on Sky Sports:
"Fernandes has had great praise and over the past month people have been comparing him to people like Eric Cantona, but Cantona [won trophies].
"Fernandes didn’t really do much tonight. The top players turn up on the big occasions."
Thoughts? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/K6IC5ui0hX
— Goal (@goal) January 7, 2021
Drew a fine save from Zack Steffen with a lovely curling effort from outside the box. But, he cut a frustrated figure for almost the rest of the match as he lacked the usual penetration in the final third. Lost the ball on eighteen occasions and his shots from distance in the second half lacked venom to trouble Steffen.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
Tried hard to make things happen, but it just did not work for the Frenchman on the night. Often let down by heavy touches and overhit passes at crucial moments, Pogba was not able to make the desired impact.
Anthony Martial: 4/10
Lacked any sort of sharpness at the top and hardly looked like causing any troubles to the Manchester City duo of Stones and Dias. Unlucky not to be booked for diving in the second half. Uninspiring and disappointing.
Anthony Martial. Manchester United.
— Vicky Wallace (@vicky_bantu) January 7, 2021
Mason Greenwood: N/A
On for McTominay with just 15 minutes left. Perhaps should have come on a tad earlier.
Donny van de Beek: N/A
88th minute substitute for Fred.
Zack Steffen: 6/10
Fine save to deny Fernandes after he had had a let-off courtesy the offside flag. Was not tested much by the Manchester United attackers from that point on, barring a few speculative efforts from distance which he was up to. Distributed well from the back, misplacing just four passes.
Joao Cancelo: 7/10
Did well to deny Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes spaces to make things happen in the final third. Got forward to good effect in the second half, shooting just over soon after Stones’s goal, while delivering a fine cross for Foden.
Ruben Dias: 8/10
Great block to stop Rashford’s attempt at goal in the first half. Offered an authoritative presence at the back for the Cityzens, ensuring that he was present to stop any potential threat. Made two interceptions, two tackles and a game-high seven clearances.
John Stones: 8/10
John Stones has scored his first goal for Man City since November 2017 against Napoli in the Champions League.
The first time Manchester United have conceded in the League Cup this season. pic.twitter.com/PtD2W3QyRh
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 6, 2021
Unfortunate to score an own goal early on, which was overturned due to offside, much to his relief. Solid from that point on, hardly letting anything past him. And broke open the deadlock in the second half, scoring his first goal for City in 1162 days.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7/10
Manchester United tried to expose the Ukrainian international by setting Rashford on him, but barring a couple of nervy moments, Zinchenko held his own on the night. Used his pace and positioning skills to mitigate any threat and used the ball when in possession.
Back in the side in place of Rodri, the Manchester City captain’s presence played a key role in ensuring that they controlled the game at Old Trafford. Shielded the defence well and was sharp with his distribution, completing 61 of his 66 passes, including a key pass. The most crucial moment, though, came in the 83rd minute when showed great technique to volley the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
What a great night! 🙏🏾 Excellent performance and the most important, we’re going to another final. 💪🏾💪🏾 Honoring the memory of Colin Bell, I’d like to send my condolences to his family and friends. 💙 #wearecity pic.twitter.com/Xq9cjCWmKv
— Fernandinho (@fernandinho) January 6, 2021
Ilkay Gundogan: 7/10
Had a goal chalked off for a narrow but correct offside call early in the game. Seems to be enjoying the freedom given in the recent games as he constantly pushed forward in an attempt to make things happen while not letting go of his defensive responsibilities, as he completed a game-high four interceptions.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7/10
Struck the post with a brilliant hit. Looked a threat each time he got on the ball and drove Manchester City forward. Completed three dribbles, two key passes and won the set-piece which led to Fernandinho’s goal in the second period.
Raheem Sterling: 6.5/10
Had some nice moments of link-up play with the ones around him and played in a couple of key passes but never really burst into life. Had a header saved in the second half as his search for a goal against Manchester United continues. Worked extremely hard off the ball.
Riyad Mahrez: 6/10
Asked to play centrally, the Algerian international was not able to find the kind of spaces in which he thrives in, in the final third. Did came to scoring a scorcher in the second half, only to be denied by Henderson.
Phil Foden: 7/10
Phil Foden now has 5 G/A (2x⚽ 3x 🅰️) in 373 minutes against the 'Big Six' sides across all competitions.
For comparison, the entire Manchester United squad have scored ONLY ONE GOAL in 5 games across all competitions against the 'Big Six'.
— Man City Delhi Supporters Club (@ManCityDelhi) January 6, 2021
Caused problems to Wan-Bissaka. Set Gundogan up for the goal that was chalked off for offside and had a goal ruled out for offside himself not long after. Did get an assist on the night as it was his free-kick that Stones bundled home.
On for Mahrez in the 79th minute. Shored things up to help City see through the game.