(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Manchester
City's stellar season gathered yet more momentum as the runaway Premier
League leaders reached the League Cup semi-finals with a penalty
shootout victory at Leicester City after a 1-1 draw following extra time
Arsenal, one of the sides trying vainly to catch City in
the league, also battled into the last four by beating London rivals
West Ham United 1-0 with a Danny Welbeck goal at The Emirates.
Guardiola's City, even with a second-string team, maintained their
21-match unbeaten record in domestic matches this season, thanks once
again in this competition to their reserve goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
visitors looked to have booked a semi-final place with a first-half
Bernardo Silva goal until Leicester were awarded a soft looking penalty
seven minutes into stoppage time which Jamie Vardy converted.
after extra time produced no further goals, Bravo, their hero with two
saves in a penalty shootout win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the
previous round, again delivered.
With City leading 4-3 in the
shootout, Leicester's two big guns, second-half substitutes Vardy and
Riyad Mahrez, who both helped change the game's momentum, surprisingly
Vardy's spot kick clipped the outside of the right-hand
post before Mahrez's poor effort was saved by Chilean Bravo to clinch a
City victory that utterly delighted Guardiola.
'I'm so happy, the
Spaniard told Sky Sports after he had bounced on to the King Power
Stadium pitch to congratulate his mixed bag of promising starlets and
'A lot of young players played for us.
They played real good, he said. 'The way we had to react was not easy
(after Leicester's penalty).
'We were tired, we had a lot of young players, and it's not easy because Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were there.
'What I liked the most is how we reacted and overcame that situation. It's a good indication for the future.
had brought in some young blood, including Phil Foden, the teenager
voted the Under-17 World Cup's best player in England's triumph, yet it
was two of his big name recruits who dovetailed to put City ahead.
Gundogan sliced through Leicester's midfield in the 26th minute before
putting in Portuguese international Silva, who toe-poked home
The Foxes, who had also kept their luminaries on the bench, unleashed Vardy and Mahrez
and started to look a match for City.
Guardiola was left complaining of an 'unfair finale when, with eight
minutes added on, Demarai Gray tumbled in the box having barely been
touched by fullback Kyle Walker.
Vardy put away the penalty with aplomb but when asked to do the same in the shootout both he and Mahrez were found wanting.
manager Arsene Wenger, who replaced all 11 of his starters from the
weekend Premier League home win over Newcastle United, still had plenty
of international pedigree as England's Danny Welbeck got the winner
three minutes before halftime.
Welbeck's persistence in bundling home
from close range was one of the few highlights, a solitary shot on
target, in a dull derby but David Moyes's side never threatened Arsenal,
with a wayward Aaron Cresswell free kick proving their best effort.
Arsenal and City progressing, there is the prospect of two
mouthwatering last-four clashes because on Wednesday holders Manchester
United visit high-flying Championship side Bristol City and Chelsea host