Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck and Stoke City’s Ireland international Marc Wilson battle for the ball in the rain. Pic: Lynne Cameron/EMPICS Sport
MANCHESTER UNITED BEAT Stoke City 2-0 to reach the League Cup semi-finals tonight, 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 to join Sunderland and Manchester City in the last four.
With Wayne Rooney absent due to an unspecified injury, United manager David 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.
Tottenham Hotspur interim manager Tim Sherwood (right) with Les Ferdinand. John Walton/EMPICS Sport
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.
Interim coach Tim Sherwood picked an adventurous team, giving Emmanuel Adebayor his first start of the season alongside Jermain Defoe up front, and the pair combined to give Spurs the lead in the 67th minute.
Defoe crossed from the left and Adebayor slid in to slam home an emphatic volley via the underside of the crossbar.
However, there was a blow for Spurs when Andros Townsend was forced off with an apparent hamstring injury and in the 80th minute West Ham levelled when Matt Taylor teed up Matt Jarvis to beat Hugo Lloris at his near post.
Modibo Maiga completed West Ham’s comeback five minutes later, heading in from a Mohamed Diame cross to give Sam Allardyce’s side a second consecutive win at White Hart Lane following a 3-0 league success in October.
Maiga almost made it 3-1 in stoppage time but his drive from 20 yards came back off the bar.
Semi-finals draw: Sunderland v Manchester United; Manchester City v West Ham.