Goals from Fernandinho, Sergio Agüero and Kevin de Bruyne helped the Citizens claw back a one-goal deficit (on aggregate) against Roberto Martinez’ side – who’ll feel hard done by, after some controversial officiating.
A fast, relentless start
It was not all plain sailing for Wednesday’s hosts, though. Ross Barkley broke the deadlock after 18 minutes, striking from distance after driving through midfield on a marauding run forward. It was all too easy for the Evertonian, who took advantage of some sloppy defensive positioning to waltz into space and fire past a helpless Willy Caballero with the home supporters collectively shaking their heads.
City needed a quick response to settle their nerves, considering they were then 3-1 down on aggregate, and Fernandinho stepped up to the plate to equalise after his deflected effort bundled past Joel Robles into the bottom corner. It was just the kind of fortune that the sky Blues needed to kick-start their evening after some defensive frailties were exposed all-too-easily by the likes of Barkley and the tireless figure of Romelu Lukaku.
Half of reflection
At the interval, the teams were level. City aimed to use Fernandinho’s goal as leverage to take control of the tie itself, but Roberto Martinez‘ side did their utmost to frustrate them by winning midfield battles and thwarting overlapping runs with cynical, but important, tackles to slow down the tempo at times.
David Silva has shown flashes of his individual brilliance but still doesn’t fill many fanatics with the same enthusiasm and joy that he did prior to his injury, and struggled to create much in the final third too.
Inspired sub – and a cause for concern
A surprise he didn’t start, Kevin de Bruyne was introduced into the action, replacing Yaya Touré, with time ticking away in the second-half and Manuel Pellegrini hoping his side could take advantage of their attacking momentum – creating chances, to eventually take one on-goal. They did just that, although it was not without controversy.
Raheem Sterling‘s cut-back into the six-yard box was threaded neatly into the path of de Bruyne himself. The talented Belgian, who has shone since his big-money switch from VfL Wolfsburg last summer, made no mistake from close-range, to slot home and change the complexity of the game itself. However, replays showed the ball trickled over the line moments before Sterling’s cut-back, meaning Everton themselves should’ve been awarded a goal-kick. The goal stood, and plenty of calls for technology began to rumble again on social media outlets shortly after the decision was made.
Everton now needed a goal, but found themselves under intense pressure as de Bruyne was enjoying his spell in the final third. Kevin then swung an excellent delivery into the area, which was met by the head of who other, than Sergio Agüero to make it 3-1, and 4-3 on aggregate. John Stones was caught ball-watching and a world-class finisher, like Sergio, doesn’t need an invitation to score.
The cause for concern? de Bruyne sustaining an injury in the latter stages of the game itself, clutching his knee in agony. He had to be stretchered off, to a warm round of applause from the home supporters – hoping the blow wasn’t as bad as first feared.
City maintained a firm stance at the back and were solid enough to deny Everton a route back into the tie, meaning they progress to February’s final, hoping that the Capital One Cup will be the first of a few pieces of silverware before the season is finished.