Holders Manchester City can look forward to defending the EFL Cup in next month’s final at Wembley after Gabriel Jesus struck four goals in a 9-0 thrashing of Burton Albion in their semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez were also on target against Nigel Clough’s League One side as City ensured their visit to the Pirelli Stadium on Jan. 23 is a mere formality.
“Of course we are already in the final. We have to play second leg and we will take it seriously. Happy to be in the final again,” City boss Pep Guardiola said.
After also thrashing Rotherham 7-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday with a much-changed side, Guardiola was able to again hand a rest to a number of his key players, but named a strong side, with De Bruyne continuing his comeback from injury.
The Belgian set the tone for the evening by heading City into a fifth-minute lead as he timed his run into the box perfectly to head home David Silva’s cross.
Clough admitted before the game that it would take a “miracle” for Burton to blunt the Premier League champions’ might over two legs.
“We didn’t expect anything less given the gulf in class between the teams, we actually feared it could be more,” said Clough, a two-time League Cup winner as a player under his father, Brian Clough, at Nottingham Forest.
It took City until the half-hour mark to double their advantage, but a glut of three goals in seven minutes followed to put the tie to bed before the break.
Jesus headed home his first from close range after Bradley Collins had denied Leroy Sane before the Brazilian slotted home Silva’s cushioned pass via the inside of the post.
“Players like me want to play more, to help the team, and we went out there to win,” Jesus said.
City did not need any luck, but still got some when Zinchenko’s intended cross then looped over Collins to make it 4-0.
Other sides might have slacked off in the second period, but with competition for places so fierce among Guardiola’s side, the hosts were ruthless to match the Catalan’s biggest-ever win as a coach.
Jesus powered home a header to complete his second hat-trick of the season.
De Bruyne was then replaced by home favorite Foden, who was surprisingly left out the starting lineup, just before the hour mark.
It took just four minutes for the 18-year-old to score his third City goal as he profited from a rebound after Collins did well to parry Jesus’s first effort.
Jesus soon had his fourth with a delicate finish from a Sane cross and City’s dominance was summed up when rightback Kyle Walker strode forward to fire home his side’s eighth of the evening.
Mahrez made it nine seven minutes from time and those City fans still in the Etihad cried for a historic 10th.
However, that was the only thing City fell short of on the night, with a final meeting against Tottenham Hotspur or Chelsea on Feb. 24 guaranteed.
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