Manchester City recorded a sweet revenge for derby defeat to Manchester United last month by simply outclassing them on Tuesday to wrap up a 3-1 first-leg win of the Carabao Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.
The holders were rampant before the break as Bernardo Silva’s wonder strike, Riyad Mahrez’s cool finish and an own goal from Andreas Pereira put City well on course for a third straight League Cup final.
United’s captain for the evening Marcus Rashford restored some pride for the hosts to reduce the deficit 20 minutes from time, but they face a huge task when the sides meet again for the second leg on January 29.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men had torn City apart on the counter-attack to shock the Premier League champions on home soil a month ago.
That league defeat allied to another loss at Wolves over the festive season realistically ended City’s hopes of catching runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool, leaving Pep Guardiola’s men to focus on the domestic cups and Champions League.
Guardiola showed his intent by naming a strong team but without a natural striker as Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were left on the bench. The fluid front four of Silva, Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne were too fleet of foot and thought for a United defence without the injured Harry Maguire.
An extra midfielder also helped City dominate possession and nullify United counter-attacks.
City got their reward with a sumptuous strike from Silva to open the floodgates.
The Portuguese international has struggled to reach the heights of a brilliant campaign as City won a domestic treble last season, but was back to his best as he smashed a shot into the top corner from outside the box.
Silva turned creator for City’s second on 33 minutes as one pass split the United defence and Mahrez raced in behind Victor Lindelof before rounding David de Gea to slot into an empty net.
Five minutes later it was 3-0 as De Bruyne left Phil Jones flat on the ground before his powerful shot was parried by De Gea into the path of the unfortunate Pereira, who could only turn the ball into his own net.
Only De Gea’s brilliance and the profligacy of Sterling prevented the scoreline becoming even more embarrassing for Solskjaer before half-time.