x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

City achieve cherished target against Gunners

Manchester City beat Arsenal in style to set up a crunch Carling Cup semi-final derby against Manchester United.

Manchester City will have to overcome their neighbours and arch-rivals if they are to maintain their dream of capturing a first major trophy since 1976. Goals from Carlos Tevez, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Vladimir Weiss helped them seal a last four place in the League Cup for the first time since 1981 - and a much-anticipated meeting with Manchester United. Mark Hughes, the City manager, said: "It is a fantastic draw. Everybody in Manchester will be excited by it and probably a much wider worldwide footballing public as well. "Over two games we'd fancy our chances against anyone left in the draw, so bring them on. "There has been a little bit of negativity around in recent weeks, but that has been taken away [by this result]."

The quarter-final victory against Arsenal brought relief all around Eastlands after seven successive league draws had left Hughes under pressure. But it was Arsene Wenger who felt the heat at the end, refusing to shake the hand of his counterpart following a third defeat in four games. The Arsenal manager would not reveal what upset him, but said: "I am free to shake whose hand I want. I had no professional courtesy to shake his hand." A bemused Hughes responded: "At one point I was over on his side of the technical area and he seemed to be a bit aggrieved by that. "But I think he is probably more aggrieved because he got beaten. I have been to the Emirates Stadium [with Blackburn] and been beaten 6-2, but I still offered my hand at the end. It is the least you can do.

"I am a little bit disappointed in that respect. You should be a bit more gracious than that because it is unnecessary. "We all hurt when we get beaten. No one is more upset than me. But you should always offer your hand." City's first-choice simply proved far too strong for Wenger's younger side. To crank up the atmosphere on Wednesday, the stadium was enveloped in darkness before a blue moon lit up the screen and flag-waving fans burst into song. But the jeers for Emmanuel Adebayor were also audible as he made his first appearance against his former club since the 4-2 win in September, a game which saw him taunt the Arsenal fans after scoring and also deemed guilty of a stamp on Robin van Persie. Almost predictably, he had the first chance for his side in the sixth minute. Gareth Barry swung over a corner from the right and Adebayor got above Alex Song, but his header was well held by Lukasz Fabianski. He cried out in frustration. City were looking for the early goal to calm frayed nerves after their recent run of results, but Craig Bellamy flashed a shot agonisingly wide before Fabianski beat out a thumping drive from Tevez. Carlos Vela flicked a shot over at the other end as Arsenal counter-attacked with pace, but City were dominant and eventually got the opener in the 50th minute. Tomas Rosicky was caught in possession on the right and Tevez danced at the defence before curling home his fifth goal of the season. Adebayor should have added a second when he met a left-wing cross from Craig Bellamy, but lifted the ball high and wide as Fabianski came out. City survived some anxious moments as Arsenal rallied and it took another moment of brilliance from Wright-Phillips to ease the tension in the 69th minute, running in full flow before smashing a 20-yard shot into the top corner. It was his second goal in successive games after scoring against Hull on Saturday. Fabianski made a good block from Bellamy before the Welshman set up the substitute Weiss to slot home his first senior goal a minute from time. akhan@thenational.ae