MANCHESTER // According to Mark Hughes, fate conspired to bring Manchester City and United together in the Carling Cup semi-finals after his side's 3-0 win against Arsenal. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of City's win against United in their last League Cup semi-final meeting. They went on to lift the trophy that season and Hughes said: "There may be some significance in it. "I think the draw was meant to be. Two games against United is going to focus everyone's energies, but when we play like this, we don't fear anybody. Certainly over two legs, we would back ourselves against anybody and that includes United."
Carlos Tevez scored the opener against Arsenal before strikes from Shaun Wright-Phillips and youngster Vladimir Weiss. Tevez was a leading light for United when they won the Carling Cup last season and he cannot wait to face his former club again in January. "It's a classico," he said. "Of course it will be a special game for me. The Manchester City fans want us to win and the important thing is we will be ready for them."
Arsene Wenger refused to shake hands with Hughes afterwards. "Maybe he's used to winning games and when he does lose sometimes he doesn't know how to behave," added Hughes. As another trophy eluded Arsenal, a surly Wenger defended his decision to play the reserves. "They played their full side and we didn't, that was the difference," he said. "We have not won a trophy since 2005, but I don't consider that if you win the Carling Cup we parade it around and say we have won the trophy. To play in the quarter-final, semi-final or final of the Champions League is 10 times more difficult than to win the Carling Cup."
In the night's other tie, Blackburn saw off Premier League leaders Chelsea 4-3 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw in which Paulo Ferreira equalised for Carlo Ancelotti's side with the last kick of the game. For the housebound Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, this result was a real pick-me-up after his heart surgery. The Blackburn No 2 Neil McDonald said: "Any more matches like that and it will be me having heart surgery next. I hope they will regret fielding a weakened side, maybe they should have looked at our home form and felt that was not the best thing to do." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org