In-form Women's Championship leaders Leicester City will travel to the Women's Super League's winless, bottom club Bristol City as the two sides bid for a place in the League Cup final, after Sunday's draw for the semi-finals saw them avoid potentially tougher ties. Manchester CiRead More »
Bristol City Women 2 Aston Villa Women 1 Women’s Super League strugglers Bristol City gave their campaign a major boost as they produced their best performance of the season to beat Aston Villa and reach the League Cup semi-finals. Two breakaway goals from lone striker Ebony Salmon against her old club were enough to send the Women's Super League’s bottom side through to the last four for the first time since 2012, when they were known as Bristol Academy. Tanya Oxtoby’s side are winless in the league this season, drawing two and losing eight of their 10 WSL games, and were convincingly beaten 4-0 at home against Aston Villa when the two sides met on the same ground just over one month earlier. But City’s League Cup form has been excellent, having topped their group with three wins from three, and they were resolute against Villa on Wednesday night, despite missing three key first-team players. Midfielder Carla Humphrey and goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley both tested positive for Covid-19, while Jemma Purfield also entered 10 days of isolation after coming into close contact with the pair. Deputising for Baggaley in goal, Norwegian shot-stopper Benedicte Haaland was on top form and did brilliantly to keep out Diana Silva’s first-time effort from six yards out. At the other end, Villa keeper Sian Rogers did well to turn Salmon’s low shot behind to keep the game goalless at half-time. After the break, there was nothing Rogers could do about Salmon’s two quickfire goals, both of which came on the counter-attack. First the former Villa and Manchester United youngster cut inside Anita Asante and bent a left-footed finish home, before the 19-year-old used her pace to break clear again, confidently take the ball around Rogers and tap in her second moments later. Villa, who created the better of the chances, were repeatedly thwarted by defensive blocks inside the Bristol City area, while Rogers did well to deny Salmon her hat-trick at the other end. Villa pushed forward and Denmark striker Stine Larsen – on as a substitute – gave them hope with a well placed downward header, halving the deficit with four minutes to go. But the hosts held on to not just keep their cup dream alive but also give their bid to avoid relegation a much-needed morale boost. Oxtoby felt the win was one of her side's better performances, telling Telegraph Sport: "We've had our fair share of downs and this is a nice up for the group. For the players to perform the way they have, after the day we have had [with two players testing positive for Covid], says a lot about their character. "We showed great determination. We had to defend for our lives at times. Villa threw the kitchen sink at us and we took our chances at the other end. I'm really pleased Ebony [Salmon] has got on the scoresheet twice because she works tirelessly and sometimes for no reward." Villa boss Gemma Davies was frustrated by her side's lack of a clinical edge in front of goal, adding: "We played some terrific football tonight. Ultimately we have got to be better in front of goal and be more ruthless, doing things with more purpose in those areas." Crystal Palace will host Leicester City in an all-Championship contest on Thursday, in the second of the quarter-finals, before holders Chelsea travel to Manchester City next Wednesday and West Ham United host Durham on Thursday. Match details Bristol City (4-1-4-1): Haaland; Bryson, Rafferty (Jones, 77), Evans, Allen; Palmer (Layzell, 85); Daniels, Wellings, Logarzo, Bissell; Salmon. Subs not used: Collis, Harrison, Layzell, Mastrantonio, Jones. Aston Villa (4-4-2): Rogers; Ale, N’Dow, Asante, Siems; Petzelberger, Arthur, Ewers (Iwabuchi, 73), Syme (Hanssen, 73); Silva (Follis 67), Hayles (Larsen 67). Subs not used: Weiss, West, Haigh, McLoughlin, Haywood. Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis (West Midlands).
Manchester City reached their fourth straight League Cup final as second-half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho gave Pep Guardiola's side a 2-0 win over Manchester United in Wednesday's semi-final at Old Trafford. City will meet Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the April 25 final as they seek their fourth League Cup triumph in a row. In a frantic opening to the game, both teams had efforts ruled out for offside with Stones turning the ball into his own net but being saved by the flag and Ilkay Gundogan converting a low ball in from Phil Foden but, again, the attempt was rightly ruled out.
Pep Guardiola has looked like a man wrestling with his inner demons for much of this strange season, but he was grinning from ear to ear by the end of this Carabao Cup semi-final and with very good reason after Manchester City provided further compelling evidence that, after a slow start to the campaign, they have rediscovered their mojo. In the space of four days, first with that dismantling of Chelsea and now with this classy display against Manchester United, the Premier League’s in-form team, City have sent a resounding message that rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. Colin Bell, whose sad death on Tuesday was marked with a minute’s silence, for one, would have loved what his beloved club produced here. There is still plenty for United to play for this season, even if a fourth successive semi-final exit will be hard to stomach, but for all their recent improvement, this was a reminder of the gap they still need to bridge if they are to reacquaint themselves with silverware. As their desperation grew in the second half, City carried the steely look of a team who had done this before, oozing a control and conviction that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still striving for from his team in big matches. Indeed, after a fairly even first half, Solskjaer will have been frustrated by just how little his side troubled their opponents once the game restarted. If you can keep Bruno Fernandes quiet, there is every chance of suffocating United and City did that superbly, the foundations for this performance laid by the outstanding centre-half pairing of Ruben Dias and John Stones, who scored the first goal shortly after the interval before Fernandinho capped off a fine win late on. The warm embrace at the final whistle between Dias and Stones spoke volumes and the way their team-mates rushed over to mob the duo told you all you needed to know about the scale of their contribution. Subduing United’s attack is no easy feat but they gave Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford little in the way of hope and, further up the pitch, the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo simply picked up where they had left off against Chelsea. So, once again, we will have another showpiece occasion that pits Guardiola against Jose Mourinho, his long-time nemesis, with Tottenham Hotspur standing between City and the chance of becoming the first club since Liverpool in 1984 to win a fourth consecutive League Cup. United are much improved from the team who were 3-0 down inside 38 minutes against City at this stage of the competition 12 months ago, but it became apparent once Stones had opened the scoring that the hosts were going to have a hard time trying to claw their way back. Solskjaer would certainly have liked to be able to call upon Edinson Cavani – unavailable due to suspension – from the bench at least. Martial has still to convince as a centre-forward and got short change out of Stones and Dias, whose fine block denied Rashford in a full-blooded first half. Roy Keane had got his knickers in a twist after that anaemic stalemate here a month ago, when players from both sides exchanged hugs at the final whistle, but on this occasion the tone was set early on when Fernandinho clattered through the back of Fernandes and the United midfielder reacted by shoving his City counterpart in the chest. There were three disallowed goals in the first 24 minutes, all correctly ruled out for offside. De Bruyne’s shot cannoned back off a post after a sweeping City move and Fernandes drew a fine save from Zack Steffen, deputising for Ederson in goal.