Manchester City completed the formalities of their EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion, a 1-0 second-leg win officially punching their ticket to Wembley.
Having scored nine without reply in the first meeting, Wednesday’s match was little more than a dead rubber and City wrapped up a 10-0 aggregate triumph – two shy of the record for the biggest two-leg margin of victory in the competition’s history.
Unsurprisingly, there was a pedestrian, almost pre-season friendly pace about the game, with Sergio Aguero making the first-half breakthrough against the League One side.
That proved to be the only goal at the Pirelli Stadium, leaving holders City to contemplate back-to-back EFL Cup finals for the first time in their history, with Tottenham or Chelsea their opponents on February 24.
Riyad Mahrez had already seen a low strike from an acute angle beat the left post before he helped open the scoring in the 26th minute.
The Algeria winger raced onto Kevin De Bruyne’s sublime pass and selflessly cut the ball back for Aguero to side-foot home.
City did little to force the issue after the goal and it took until the 53rd minute for the visitors to carve another clear chance, Fabian Delph denied at close range by Bradley Collins.
Aguero should have doubled the lead when he wastefully slotted wide from eight yards before Benjamin Mendy made a welcome comeback from a two-month injury lay-off.
Burton had a golden chance to at least mark the occasion with a goal, Eric Garcia clearing Will Miller’s shot off the line, but ultimately the match was another addition to City’s win column.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 23, 2019
What does it mean? City aim to emulate rivals United
Last year’s EFL Cup success was City’s first piece of silverware under Pep Guardiola, setting the tone for a record-breaking Premier League triumph. If they can retain the trophy, they will be the first team since Manchester United to lift it in back-to-back years – the Red Devils having done so in 2009 and then again in 2010.
Mahrez makes most of minutes
Mahrez has reportedly been unhappy with his lack of minutes in recent weeks and was left out of the squad entirely for Sunday’s Premier League win at Huddersfield Town. But the former Leicester City player showed no signs of sulking here – having already tested the water a couple of times himself, he laid one on a plate for Aguero.
Benjamin on the Mend-y good news for Zinchenko
Left-back has been a bit of a problem area for Guardiola this season, with Mendy having been absent since November with a knee injury. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been utilised in the role on occasions but never looked truly comfortable. He was caught out on a couple of occasions here and with Mendy back in contention, the Ukrainian will hope to fight for a place in a more familiar role further up the pitch.
City now switch focus to the FA Cup and a home tie with fellow Premier League side Burnley on Saturday, while Burton resume League One duties against Bradford City.
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