Manchester City deservedly beat Manchester United to reach the Carabao Cup final and will now face Tottenham at Wembley as they look to win the competition for a fourth straight year.
Second-half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho secured their progress as City cut loose after a first period in which both sides had goals disallowed.
Stones exposed poor United set-piece defending when he nudged home Phil Foden’s free-kick from close range five minutes after the restart.
Pep Guardiola’s side looked the more likely scorers afterwards, despite United’s increasing desperation, and when Anthony Martial and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could only combine to clear a corner to the edge of their own box, Fernandinho drilled a first-time volley into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
City will equal Liverpool’s record of winning the League Cup four times in a row if they beat Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on Sunday, 25 April.
It will be a first final meeting between Guardiola and Mourinho since 2011, when the current Spurs boss’ Real Madrid side denied Barcelona the treble by winning the Copa del Rey.
It was a disappointing night for United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side have now lost four cup semi-finals in the past 12 months and failed to heed their manager’s call to win some silverware as tangible proof of their recent improvement.
Fitting tribute to a City legend
In a sense, it was fitting these two old rivals should meet the day after the death of Colin Bell.
The brilliant former England midfielder was part of Manchester City’s ‘Holy Trinity’ in an era where United also had one.
Bell won the League Cup in 1970, when he scored in a semi-final win against United and, sadly, his career was wrecked by a tackle in a derby.
There are not many box-to-box players like Bell now but, even though he was again deployed in a false nine role, Kevin de Bruyne is a worthy heir to a man City supporters called “the King”.
The Belgian’s shot, which thudded off the post at such pace it bounced straight out to Wan-Bissaka, who was fully 12 yards away from his goal, was majestic in its brutality.
It was the high point of a first half City dominated in terms of possession but trailed in terms of shots, although they did have two goals ruled out because of offside compared with their hosts’ one.
Stones was an unlikely candidate to break the deadlock given it was over three years since the centre-back’s last goal, but it underlined the resurgence in his game after spending almost 18 months on the periphery of Guardiola’s squad.
Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez both went close to doubling City’s lead before Fernandinho did, although even before that the visitors seemed to have the tie in their own form of lockdown.