Man United reach League Cup semis

December 20, 2013 - 12:57:43 am

Tottenham Hotspur’s French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (right) vies for the ball with West Ham United’s English striker Carlton Cole during the English League Cup quater-final football match at White Hart Lane in London, England, on Wednesday night. West Ham United won 2-1.

LONDON: Manchester United beat Stoke City 2-0 to reach the League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night, while the post-Andre Villas-Boas era at Tottenham Hotspur began with defeat by West Ham United.

After a first-half hailstorm briefly forced the teams off the pitch at the Britannia Stadium, United prevailed through fine strikes from Ashley Young and Patrice Evra.

Their reward was a semi-final tie against Sunderland, 2-1 victors over Chelsea on Tuesday, while West Ham will play Manchester City, with the first legs of both ties due to be played in the week beginning January 6.

“The first goal tonight, whoever got it was going to make a big difference,” United manager David Moyes told Sky Sports.

“It was a tight game. We had some good play at times. We hadn’t created too many chances, but I didn’t think Stoke City created too many chances either.”

On the prospect of facing Sunderland, he added: “It’s a cup game. It shows you how well Sunderland played -- they beat Chelsea last night and they played well to get that result.

“They’ve got a new manager (Gus Poyet) as well, so a lot of things can happen between now and then, but obviously we’re just really pleased that we got ourselves into the semi-final.”

With Wayne Rooney absent due to an unspecified injury, Moyes deployed Danny Welbeck as a lone striker, while Chris Smalling, Anderson and Young were all brought into the team.

Young was given an early sight of goal when a square pass from Welbeck found him in space on the edge of the box, but he could only find the side-netting with his rising shot.

The hail arrived in the 28th minute, sending players and match officials scurrying for the cover of the changing rooms, before play resumed following a 10-minute delay.Jonny Evans might have put United ahead shortly before half-time but he could not get a shot away after latching onto Smalling’s near-post flick-on.

Moyes introduced Javier Hernandez with just over half an hour remaining and moments later Young made the breakthrough in stunning fashion.

The former Aston Villa winger played a pass forward to Hernandez and when the ball came back to him on the edge of the box, he met it with a first-time drive of searing power that Thomas Sorensen got his gloves to but could not stop.

Stoke rallied, briefly, but United put the game to bed in the 78th minute when Evra exchanged passes with Young before curling a fine shot inside the right-hand post with his seldom-used right foot.  Playing for the first time since Villas-Boas was sacked on Monday, Spurs let a 1-0 lead slip in a 2-1 loss at home to London rivals West Ham. Villas-Boas’s departure appeared to have caught the producers of the Tottenham match-day programme by surprise, with the Portuguese still listed as “Head Coach” on its back page. AFP

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