Hammers Break City’s stronghold on Carabao Cup
West Ham United ended Manchester United’s run in this season’s Carabao Cup by dumping them out at the third round stage and now they have progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition by knocking out current holders Manchester City, as they were beaten 5-3 on penalties, following a goalless draw in Stratford on Wednesday night.
A number of players that featured in last week’s UEFA Europa League match at home to KRC Genk were also selected here as Alphonse Areola, Andriy Yarmolenko, Nikola Vlašić, Craig Dawson, Manuel Lanzini and Arthur Masuaku were all given starts.
Defender Issa Diop was able to make his 100th appearance for the club as he was included in the starting line-up, while club Captain Mark Noble took the armband in the absence of Declan Rice.
Youngsters Harrison Ashby and Dan Chesters were again included in the matchday squad, while Vladimír Coufal was also deemed fit enough to make the bench.
Having beaten Tottenham Hotspur here in the Premier League three days earlier, the Hammers were keen to try and keep their good form going but they knew that they would face a tough test against Josep Guardiola’s men as they hadn’t lost a game in this competition for the previous four seasons.
When City have a chance within the first five minutes, you know it’s going to be a tough night. Fortunately for the home faithful though, they wasted it. Riyad Mahrez pounced on Masuaku’s loose pass and played the ball into the path of youngster Cole Palmer but he was in an offside position when he received possession.
The visitors had a spell of pressure and Palmer was involved again soon after as he spotted Ilkay Gundógan in space and the German had his eyes firmly focused on the goal, only for a quite brilliant challenge from Ben Johnson to prevent him from opening the scoring.
The Irons fashioned their first real opportunity when Tomáš Souček set up Noble, whose powerful effort was down the throat of goalkeeper Zak Steffen but it wasn’t that easy for the American, as he needed extra help from defender John Stones to properly clear the danger.
Palmer was proving to be a real threat to the home side and this was the case again on twenty five minutes when he managed to get the better of Souček and sent an effort goalwards but Areola made a superb block.
Guardiola’s team were trying to get their rhythm going but kept being denied by crucial blocks from both Diop and Dawson. When the visitors did try their luck, it was mostly from long-range and this proved to be unsuccessful.
An effort from Mahrez was volleyed out for a throw-in, following a good ball from Gundógan, while moments later, Diop saw the danger that Kevin De Bruyne was posing and promptly dealt with it, as the defender denied him an effort on goal.
Just before half-time, it was down to a combination of both Areola and Souček to keep their visitors at bay. Nathan Aké found himself in a great position but thankfully for the home side, he sent his header wide.
As you can imagine, the Hammers would have been quite glad to have gone down the tunnel with the scores still level when referee Jonathan Moss blew the whistle but having said that, they weren’t without their share of chances.
West Ham had a great chance to go in front just after the teams had reemerged from the dressing rooms. Masuaku tried his luck but he didn’t make the best of the effort and sent it over.
Palmer then combined with Gundógan again but made a hash of his effort which wasn’t a worry for Areola in the hosts’ goal.
Aaron Cresswell then found Masuaku on the overlap and visiting goalkeeper Steffen opted to parry the shot. It turned out that his decision wasn’t the wisest as the ball fell to Yarmolenko, who looked to get a shot away but just as he was sizing up the opportunity, Oleksandr Zinchenko made a last-ditch block.
Areola was continuing to repel everything the visitors could throw at him, as he thwarted Raheem Sterling, before he was also equal to De Bruyne’s effort.
Stones was next to test the on-loan Hammers stopper and he proved that there was no way of getting past him, as he made a spectacular save to deny the defender.
West Ham were matching their opponents in every way and had their best chance when Souček sent Vlašić through on goal and it looked as if the Croatian would break the deadlock but he fired just wide.
Moyes felt that his team were still in with a great chance to win and decided to make changes. Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals and Saïd Benrahma all entered the fray on sixty two minutes taking the places of Vlašić, Masuaku and Yarmolenko.
No sooner had the Scotsman made the changes and the visitors were on the charge again. Palmer beat three Hammers’ players before combining with Sterling but when the ball came back to him, he sent it flying over the top.
Phil Foden was introduced by Guardiola in place of Mahrez in the seventy second minute and he played a part in a chance which could have seen Gundógan win the game for the visitors but once again, Areola saw the danger and saved his team.
The Citizens tried everything that they could as they searched for the elusive winner. Foden was getting ready to pull the trigger but thankfully for the hosts, Johnson was in the right place to get a crucial block in, before Areola dealt with a powerful effort from Zinchenko.
With five substitutes now allowed to be brought on, due to new Carabao Cup rules, Moyes made use of another change. Lanzini’s game had come to an early end and Coufal replaced him.
One last chance came and went for the East Londoners as the tie was nearing a penalty shootout. Johnson and Fornals combined and when the Spaniard got the ball under control, he initially mis-hit the effort but eventually passed to Souček. The midfielder had time and space to place the ball but instead, he sent a curling effort wide.
After three minutes of stoppage time had been played, Moss blew the final whistle and the outcome of the match was to be decided on penalties.
Noble missed the opportunity to earn a point for the Irons in their home match with Manchester United last month but he made no mistake here, as he beat Steffen with relative ease.
Foden took the responsibility of taking the first kick for the visitors but failed to even test Areola before Bowen was fortunate with the next spot kick. He followed the example of his skipper. Steffen went the right way but there was just too much power in the shot.
Dawson, Cresswell and Benrahma all converted their efforts which brought loud cheers from the home faithful, as it means that City’s recent dominance of this competition is over.
The Hammers now have to wait until Saturday to see who they will come up against in the next round, before attention turns to their next Premier League assignment, as they make the trip to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.