Manchester: In this congested season like no other, coaches are typically using the English League Cup to rest and rotate key players. Not Pep Guardiola.
The Manchester City manager fielded all of his top available stars against Burnley on Wednesday in a bid to stay on course for a fourth straight title in the competition, and it paid off. Raheem Sterling scored twice, offseason signing Ferran Torres added the third, and Kevin De Bruyne ran the game in City’s 3-0 win in a one-sided last-16 match.
Manchester United, Everton and Newcastle also advanced to the quarterfinals, joining Tottenham after its penalty-shootout win over Chelsea on Tuesday.
Determined to win any trophy going, Guardiola might have also wanted City to rediscover some rhythm after a wild 5-2 loss to Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday — one of his heaviest defeats as a manager. His team did just that, with Sterling looking more at home as a makeshift central striker — in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus — than he did against Leicester.
The England international could have had two or three goals before opening the scoring in the 35th minute by lashing in a left-footed finish from Benjamin Mendy’s cross.
Torres squared the ball across the face of goal to set up Sterling for a simple second goal in the 49th, and the roles were reversed in the 65th as Torres ran through to curl home a finish with aplomb for his first goal since joining from Valencia in August.
Unlike Guardiola, Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded a lineup full of fringe players but it was still enough to see off Brighton 3-0 in the teams’ second meeting in four days. While the first game was decided by a 100th-minute penalty by Bruno Fernandes on Saturday, United had the cup match wrapped up much earlier thanks to a 44th-minute header by Scott McTominay, a low finish by Juan Mata in the 73rd, and a deflected free kick by substitute Paul Pogba in the 80th.
Mata, a 32-year-old playmaker firmly down the pecking order at United these days, was the team’s outstanding player. He also set up McTominay’s goal.
Everton’s 4-1 win over West Ham — secured by a second hat trick of the season by Dominic Calvert-Lewin — came at a cost.
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