Wed. Jan 20th, 2021

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League Cup semi-finals between Man United and Man City seldom disappoint  

6 min read

A place at Wembley is the prize as Manchester United host Manchester City in a hotly-anticipated Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.

All will be decided over just the one match rather than the traditional two legs, with Tottenham Hotspur awaiting the victors in April’s final.

This is the fourth time the two Manchester rivals have met at this stage of the League Cup competition and if the drama matches up to the previous three encounters, we’re in for a real treat.

Manchester United and Manchester City played out a bland 0-0 draw in their Premier League meeting at Old Trafford last month - but on Wednesday night there will have to be a winner

Manchester United and Manchester City played out a bland 0-0 draw in their Premier League meeting at Old Trafford last month – but on Wednesday night there will have to be a winner

1969-1970: Manchester City win 4-3 on aggregate

These were vintage years for both the Manchester clubs even if by the time of their meeting in the 1969-70 semi-finals both were beyond their peak.

City had been crowned champions of England in 1968, only for United to trump them by winning the European Cup.

Sir Matt Busby had departed Old Trafford but the ‘Holy Trinity’ of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law remained in place. Over at Maine Road, City had their own terrific trio of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee.

So it came as little surprise to anyone that all six would be at the centre of two ding-dong encounters.

Mike Summerbee scores the goal to settle an enthralling two-legged semi-final in 1969

Mike Summerbee scores the goal to settle an enthralling two-legged semi-final in 1969

Denis Law and Tommy Booth come to blows after City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan is felled

Denis Law and Tommy Booth come to blows after City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan is felled

City won the first leg 2-1 on a Maine Road pitch that resembled a quagmire and yet didn’t seem to hinder the free-flowing Best and Bell.

Even on the heavy turf, ‘Nijinsky’ Bell, who passed away this week, was nimble enough to open the scoring with a flash of a finish from the edge of the United box.

Charlton equalised in the second half but City stole a first-leg advantage when Lee converted an 88th-minute penalty that left United’s players infuriated.

Law beats Corrigan at close range to level the aggregate scores at 3-3 at Old Trafford

Law beats Corrigan at close range to level the aggregate scores at 3-3 at Old Trafford

City keeper Corrigan clutches the ball under pressure from John Aston in the 1969 game

City keeper Corrigan clutches the ball under pressure from John Aston in the 1969 game

After the final whistle, Best knocked the ball out of referee Jack Taylor’s hands and was later banned for four weeks for his trouble. When he returned for a February FA Cup tie at Northampton Town, Best scored six goals in a 8-2 United win.

The second leg at Old Trafford was another thriller. City extended their aggregate advantage through Ian Bowyer after United keeper Alex Stepney was left sprawling in the mud trying to grab the ball.

But United responded well and goals from Paul Edwards – an impressive top corner finish for a defender – and Law – a tap-in after City keeper Joe Corrigan couldn’t keep out Best’s shot after a characteristic mazy dribble.

Ian Bowyer (third left) opens the scoring for City in the second leg at Old Trafford in 1969

Ian Bowyer (third left) opens the scoring for City in the second leg at Old Trafford in 1969

Defender Paul Edwards picks out the top corner to get United back into the second leg

Defender Paul Edwards picks out the top corner to get United back into the second leg

The tie was all-square at 3-3 with eight minutes to play, when City were awarded an indirect free-kick 30 yards from goal. Lee decided to shoot anyway, looking for a deflection off the wall, and Stepney could only push it into the path of Summerbee to settle the tie.

City went on to lift the cup, beating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in the final.

2009-2010: Manchester United win 4-3 on aggregate

For years, Sir Alex Ferguson’s United had ruled the roost not only in Manchester but in England. They’d won the Champions League in 2008 and reached another final in 2009.

But City, who’d been taken over by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, were starting to flex their financial muscles and it seemed a matter of time before they started winning things.

A few months before the two teams met in this Carling Cup semi-final, Ferguson had famously described City as the ‘noisy neighbours’ after Michael Owen’s stoppage-time goal won the league derby 4-3 at Old Trafford.

Carlos Tevez was inevitably at the centre of things as City beat United in the 2010 first leg

Carlos Tevez was inevitably at the centre of things as City beat United in the 2010 first leg

Tevez celebrates his first goal by celebrating in front of the travelling Man United fans

Tevez celebrates his first goal by celebrating in front of the travelling Man United fans 

Tevez's controversial switch from United to City was marked with 'Welcome to Manchester' billboards commissioned by his new club in the city centre

Tevez’s controversial switch from United to City was marked with ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboards commissioned by his new club in the city centre

‘Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder,’ said United’s manager.

Nothing had turned up the volume more than Carlos Tevez’s highly controversial move from United to City the previous summer and the famous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboards that appeared in the city centre.

It was inevitable that the Argentine would be heavily involved in these semi-final meetings.

The first game at the Etihad had to be postponed because of heavy snow but when it did finally happen, a tap-in from Ryan Giggs seemed to have United on course.

But after Rafael da Silva had hauled down Craig Bellamy, Tevez thundered a penalty past Edwin van der Sar to equalise, pointedly celebrating in front of the United fans.

Tevez was also on target in the second leg at Old Trafford, levelling the semi-final tie at 3-3

Tevez was also on target in the second leg at Old Trafford, levelling the semi-final tie at 3-3

But Wayne Rooney headed a dramatic stoppage-time winner to send United into the final

But Wayne Rooney headed a dramatic stoppage-time winner to send United into the final

Rooney celebrate after his 92nd-minute goal settled a pulsating Carling Cup semi-final

Rooney celebrate after his 92nd-minute goal settled a pulsating Carling Cup semi-final

And he’d nod home from close range in the second half to give City a slender 2-1 lead heading to Old Trafford.

Tevez was greeted by jeers as he walked out at Old Trafford but United had taken control of the tie by the 70th minute thanks to goals from Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick.

Just as it looked as if United’s Wembley ticket had been booked, Tevez stole in ahead of Rio Ferdinand to meet Bellamy’s cross and make it 3-3 on aggregate.

Extra time loomed until Giggs crossed deep into stoppage time and Wayne Rooney nipped in between the defenders to head home a dramatic winner.

United went on to win the competition, beating Aston Villa 2-1 in the final.

2019-2020: Manchester City win 3-2 on aggregate

The clubs’ most recent League Cup semi-final meeting should be fresh in the memory.

They met at this stage of the competition 12 months ago with Pep Guardiola’s City delivering a masterclass to win the first leg 3-1 at Old Trafford.

It was a low point for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who just didn’t seem to be making any progress with United at the time. They trailed Liverpool and City by some distance in the Premier League and this performance seemed to underline the gulf in class.

Kevin De Bruyne (left), Riyad Mahrez (centre) and Bernardo Silva celebrate during Manchester City's 3-1 win at Old Trafford in the first leg of last season's semi-final

Kevin De Bruyne (left), Riyad Mahrez (centre) and Bernardo Silva celebrate during Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Old Trafford in the first leg of last season’s semi-final

Mahrez marks the second goal on the night as Pep Guardiola's team delivered a masterclass

Mahrez marks the second goal on the night as Pep Guardiola’s team delivered a masterclass

Things looked very bleak indeed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as City ran out 3-1 first-leg winners

Things looked very bleak indeed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as City ran out 3-1 first-leg winners

City were three goals in front by the 38th minute. Bernardo Silva arrowed a shot into the top corner to break the deadlock before Riyad Mahrez rounded David de Gea to score following Bernardo’s pass.

And it was 3-0 when Kevin De Bruyne turned Phil Jones inside out before firing a shot that De Gea saved but ricochet in off Andreas Pereira.

United were stunned but they did manage to pull on goal back through Marcus Rashford in the second half.

Solskjaer’s team were much improved in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium but failed to create a great deal.

Nemanja Matic scored to give United some hope of a fightback in the second leg

Nemanja Matic scored to give United some hope of a fightback in the second leg 

But they were indebted to David de Gea for a series of great saves as City progressed

But they were indebted to David de Gea for a series of great saves as City progressed 

They did, however, raise hopes of an unlikely fightback when Nemanja Matic scored after 35 minutes.

De Gea made a series of brilliant saves to keep City at bay but any hope of United forcing extra time effectively ended when Matic picked up a second booking with 14 minutes left.

City went on to beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the final, lifting the trophy for the third consecutive season.

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