Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0: Carlos Tevez on target as City reach last four

By Ian Ladyman for the Daily Mail

The modern Manchester City tend to get things spectacularly right or horribly wrong. Last night they rediscovered some of the form that marked the sunnier days of early season to waltz past Arsenal and into their first cup semi-final for nearly 29 years.

For all their recent and obvious flaws in the Barclays Premier League, where they have drawn seven successive games and are seventh in the table, City were superb, playing the type of football and scoring the kind of goals that the club's owners have spent £200million to see.

Wright-Phillips scores the second goal for City

Take that: Shaun Wright-Phillips' thunderous shot puts City 2-0 up

Earlier in the day there had been rumours that Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi would be present in the stadium for the first time since buying the club in August, 2008. Ultimately, it was a shame they were not true for this was English football at its best. Arsene Wenger's young Arsenal team played their part, too, as they stood toe to toe with City during a first half that produced much in the way of entertainment but, remarkably, no goals.

                  MATCH STATS            

Man City................................... Arsenal

8............Shots on target.................1

4............Shots off target.................7

1...............Blocked shots...............3




331............Total passes...........534

69.2%....Passing success.....81.6%

38................Total tackles.............25

76.3%.....Tackles success.......80%



But once Carlos Tevez paid back a substantial part of the £25m invested in him to move from Manchester United in the summer with a stunning opening goal in the 50th minute, City were able to relax enough to play some of the football of which they are very capable when confidence and adrenaline run through their veins.

By full time they were worthy winners, with distance put between them and Arsenal by a Shaun Wright-Phillips goal that was better than Tevez's opener and a last-minute effort from substitute Vladimir Weiss laid on a plate for him by the remarkable courage and running of Craig Bellamy.

As Weiss, 20 last Monday, wheeled away to celebrate his first senior goal, Bellamy could barely summon the energy to join in. It had been that type of night for City. Breathless stuff.

The cynics may argue that this is only the Carling Cup. But progress must come in small steps for City and this competition could turn out to be important for them and, indeed, for manager Mark Hughes as he looks to build his squad in his own image.

It was clearly important to Arsenal, too, by the way. Wenger may have won FA Cups and Premier League titles during his time at Arsenal but he engaged in a running battle of words with Hughes during the game and at full time disappeared down the tunnel without shaking the hand of his opposite number.

Tevez scores the first goal

Off the mark: Tevez notches the first

Never one to miss a cue, Hughes turned, shrugged and theatrically waved him on his way.

City will now contest a two-legged semi-final against Manchester United, a prospect too mouth-watering for words given the animosity that exists between the two clubs and the thrilling nature of United's 4-3 win in September's meeting at Old Trafford.

Just as importantly, City have the chance to play in a major final for the first time since losing to Tottenham in the 1981 FA Cup final replay. Hence the excitement last night. Hughes, who will face his old club United in the semi-finals, said: 'This meant a lot to us and I think it showed in our performance.'

Certainly it was hard to disagree. Despite their recent problems, City were out of the blocks quickly in the first half and never allowed Arsenal to settle into the fluent rythym that can make Wenger's second string so destructive.

Emmanuel Adebayor headed an early corner in to the arms of Lukasz Fabianski before Bellamy shot wide with his right foot after being teed up perfectly by Wright-Phillips 12 yards from goal.

Tevez goal cele

Dumbstruck: Arsenal's back four are stunned after Tevez's strike

Tevez then had a shot saved as he dashed down the right and, despite playing some purposeful football of their own, Arsenal ended the opening half on the back foot as first left back Armand Traore and then midfielder Craig Eastmond were booked for late tackles on City's dashing forwards.

Tevez and Wright-Phillips have certainly not been at their best recently, with the former suffering the indignity of being dropped for the recent Premier League game at Liverpool.

Last night, however, Tevez brought a full house to their feet five minutes after the break as he robbed Tomas Rosicky down the left, exchanged short passes with Bellamy and ran across the edge of the penalty area to drive a right-foot shot across goalkeeper Fabianski and in off the underside of the bar.

Vladimir Weiss scores City's third goal

Weiss strikes: City wrap up the win with the young Slovakian's goal

Behind, and perhaps deservedly so, Arsenal rallied. Young Aaron Ramsey sent a half-volley whistling over the bar and then headed another more presentable chance too high after his team worked a neat short corner.

            MATCH FACTS                 

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Given 6; Richards 6, Toure 6, Lescott 7, Bridge 7;
Wright-Phillips 8 (Weiss 77min),
Ireland 7, Barry 6, Bellamy 8; Tevez 7 (Kompany 73, 6), Adebayor 6.
Booked: Kompany, Bellamy.

ARSENAL (4-1-4-1): Fabianski 7; Eboue 6, Song 7, Silvestre 7,
Traore 6; Eastmond 6 (Watt 68, 6); Wilshere 6, Ramsey 6, Rosicky 6, Merida 6; Vela 6.
Booked: Traore, Eastmond, Silvestre, Wilshere, Song, Ramsey.

Man of the match: Wright-Phillips.
Referee: Chris Foy.

With the game on a knife-edge, the next goal was always likely to be crucial and Wright-Phillips ensured it was the home team who scored it.

Again Rosicky lost possession, this time to Stephen Ireland who fed Wright-Phillips just inside the Arsenal half. The England winger attacked Silvestre on his outside and chose to chance his arm when he reached the angle of the penalty area. It is doubtful whether Fabianski even saw the ball as it flew across him and into the top corner. It was a stunning goal. By now Arsenal's race was run and all that was left was for Bellamy to apply a fitting finish.

On the floor with a knee problem only minutes earlier, this remarkable footballer picked himself to race down the left and set up Weiss for the third goal. It was a fitting end to an enthralling night.

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