West Ham crushed again as Manchester City coast to Wembley final
21:59 21 January 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Capital One Cup semi-final 2nd leg: West Ham United 0 Manchester City 3 (Aggregate 0-9)
Despite still being outplayed, out-passed and outclassed, it only proved half as painful as the first encounter as the Hammers’ Capital One Cup misery was finally brought to an end at a near deserted Upton Park.
With West Ham trailing by half-a-dozen first leg goals, Alvaro Negredo rendered this already futile semi-final second leg even more meaningless, when he headed City ahead as early as the third minute.
And not to be outdone, strike-partner Sergio Aguero then struck midway through the first period to double the visitors’ lead, before the nemesis that is Negredo, bagged his second goal of the night on the hour.
The damage had, obviously, already been done a fortnight ago at the Etihad Stadium, where City’s sensational, six-goal salvo had left the cup final programme printers only needing to know whether their opponents would be Sunderland or neighbours, United.
Thanks to a succession of shooting stars, the Blue Moon had already risen over Manchester to leave West Ham United with more chance of cycling to Mars on a bike with a double-puncture, than making the short hop across town to Wembley.
A dismal defeat against Newcastle United at the weekend had also left Allardyce’s side worryingly in 18th spot and following that reverse, the Hammers boss made seven changes as Kevin Nolan returned from suspension to reclaim the skipper’s armband from substitute Mark Noble, while Andy Carroll made his first start of the season and James Tomkins, Alou Diarra, Joe Cole, Ravel Morrison and Jussi Jaaskelainen were called into action.
Sitting in second place in the Premier League, 16 places and 32 points above the Hammers, City had taken their overall goals tally to 103 for the season on Saturday.
And following their 4-2 win over Cardiff City, Manuel Pellegrini made eight switches as Aguero, Costel Pantilimon, Gael Clichy, Fernandinho, Dedryck Boyata, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic and Marcos Lopes all earned call-ups.
The visitors did not have to wait long to register goal No. 104, though, for with just two-and-a-half minutes on the clock, Negredo - who plundered a hat-trick in the first leg - carried on from where he left off a fortnight ago by getting in front of the statuesque Tomkins to meet Lopes’ hanging, left-wing cross with a no-nonsense six-yard header.
Having seen the Spaniard sieze his 22nd goal of the campaign, Nolan thought he had conjured up an instant reply, but his 10-yard volley was ruled out for offside, while Mohamed Diame blazed an angled effort over the top, before Carroll then nodded high into the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
At the other end, Aguero forced Jaaskelainen to tip his low 18-yard shot aside but, after Diame - looking to net only West Ham’s 32nd goal of a sorry season - forced Pantilimon into his first save of the evening, the Argentine then found the target, midway through the first half.
Once again, the Hammers defending was shambolic as Lopes carved a path from the halfway line before slipping the ball to Aguero, who held off the stumbling challenges of Razvan Rat and Matt Taylor as he made his way towards the six-yard box, where he clipped the ball over the, by now, helplessly exposed Jaaskelainen, to double City’s lead.
Having joined Negredo on 22 goals for the season, Aguero was then booked for a spiteful lunge on Tomkins, while Diarra suffered a similar fate for tripping Lopes as an academic half drew to a close with the Hammers now trailing by enviable eight.
Carlton Cole replaced Carroll for the restart and then Stewart Downing came on for a hobbling Joe Cole but, by now, West Ham could have had Pele, Maradona and Cruyff on the pitch and it would not have made a jot of difference.
That said, the charging Carlton Cole saw his angled shot cannon off Pantilimon’s knees and fly high into the cold East End night, while the tumbling Morrison twice saw penalty appeals fall on to the deaf ears of referee, Chris Foy.
But as the hour-mark approached, yet again, Negredo enjoyed the freedom of Upton Park, when he raced on to Aguero’s defence-splitting pass and outmuscled Taylor and Roger Johnson before hooking the ball over the advancing Jaaskelainen from a couple of yards.
With the Boleyn Ground only sparsely populated to begin with, it was difficult to see whether that third goal of the evening sparked an exodus from the forlorn 14,390 brave souls in attendance but Aguero - his night’s work done - did depart as Stevan Jovetic stepped from the bench to help City coast to the final whistle.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Taylor, Rat, Tomkins, Johnson, J. Cole (Downing 47), Diarra, Diame (Collison 88), Nolan, Morrison, Carroll (C. Cole h/t). Unused subs: Adrian, Jarvis, Noble, Chambers
CITY: Pantilimon, Boyata, Clichy, Lescott, Nastasic, Navas (Kolarov 78), Lopes, Garcia (Rodwell 63), Fernandinho, Negredo, Aguero (Jovetic 65). Unused subs: Hart, Zabaleta, Dzeko, Demichelis.
Bookings: Aguero (31), Diarra (37), Clichy (64)
Referee: Chris Foy.