Toffees’ cup dreams over after controversial City win.
Manchester City 3 (1) – (1) 1 Everton
Fernandinho 24′ Barkley 18′
De Bruyne 70′
(City through 4-3 on aggregate)
Everton’s Capital One Cup dreams are over for another season after a controversial 3-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
Kevin De Bruyne’s goal that levelled the tie on aggregate was inexplicably allowed to stand, despite Raheem Sterling clearly running the ball out of play in the build-up to the Belgian’s strike.
Ross Barkley had earlier put the Toffees in control of the tie, but goals from Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero broke Blues hearts in the second leg of the semi final clash.
Much like the first leg at Goodison three weeks ago, proceedings early on were pedestrian with little quality on offer.
Indeed, Gerard Deulofeu’s searing run past Martin Demichelis and subsequent blocked cross was as good as it got.
But Everton’s grasp on the tie was strengthened on 18 minutes by the impervious Barkley.
Collecting a pass from Leon Osman, the midfielder dropped his shoulder and darted past Nicolas Otamendi.
Driving into the space in front of him, the 21 year old unleashed a low zipping effort that arrowed past Willy Caballero into the bottom right hand corner to send the 8,000 travelling Everton contingent wild.
Unfortunately though, the Blues’ lead would last just six minutes.
Aguero’s right foot drive after cutting infield was blocked by the returning Phil Jagielka, with the ball falling kindly into the path of the onrushing Fernandinho.
The Brazilian fired goalwards, and Joel Robles could only watch as his effort deflected off Baines and looped over the Spaniard to nestle into the goal.
Aguero then rattled Robles’ left hand post with a vicious strike before the Everton custodian pulled off a superb reflex save to divert David Silva’s rebound behind for a corner.
Silva and Deulofeu traded free kicks that both sailed over the upright as half-time approached.
And just minutes after the restart, Deulofeu was sent clear by Barkley as the Toffees countered from a City corner.
However, the winger attempted to place his shot past Caballero – the Citizens keeper being equal to his effort and palming the ball away.
Aguero’s airshot from substitute Jesus Navas’ cross then began to ramp the pressure up once more on the Everton goal.
And much like Aguero in the first half, Silva was mere inches from levelling proceedings in the tie as his header glanced off the right hand post with Yaya Toure lurking.
It seemed like it could have been Everton’s night, such was the charmed life their goal led, but De Bruyne’s – and referee Martin Atkinson’s – intervention 20 minutes from time put paid to that.
Sterling beat John Stones down the left for pace, but the ball had clearly crossed out of play as the winger dug out a cross.
Bafflingly, neither Atkinson nor his linesman saw the ball go out, and De Bruyne was on hand to thrash the ball past Robles despite Evertonian protestations.
And City secured their place in February’s final six minutes later as Aguero finally grabbed the goal his performance arguably deserved.
A one-two between De Bruyne and Navas saw the former curl a delightful centre into the area, and Aguero’s glancing header was powerful enough to arc past the diving Robles.
Only the FA Cup remains for Everton as a chance of glory, with the weekend’s fourth round clash with Carlisle United now front and centre for everyone associated with the Royal Blue jersey.