Aguero sends City to Wembley, but win comes at a price
Sergio Aguero's brilliance secured Manchester City's passage to a Capital One Cup final meeting with Liverpool next month, but there night of glory was marred by what appeared to be a serious injury to winger Kevin De Bruyne.
Aguero's 76th minute clincher handed City a tight 4-3 aggregate win on a night when Everton took an early lead through Ross Barkley, before Fernandinho and the influential De Bruyne brought the home side back into the game.
Yet City's Wembley celebrations were diluted by the sight of De Bruyne being carried off on a stretcher after his knee appeared to twist on a rain-soaked Etihad Stadium pitch.
De Bruyne's absence for an extended period would be a hammer blow to City's hopes of progress in four competitions over the next few months, while knee ligament damage could also threaten his participation in the Euro 2016 finals, where his Belgium side will meet the Republic of Ireland.
The De Bruyne injury did not halt City celebrations at the final whistle, with their manager Manuel Pellegrini relieved to have reached his second Capital One Cup final in three seasons.
"I am very happy, to play a final at Wembley, it is very important," declared Pellegrini.
"We deserved to be in the final, we had just one defeat - that was against Everton with a clear penalty.
"We have one month to think about the final.
"It will be a tough game and we are optimistic we will win the cup.It is important for the team to win a cup in February, it gives you a lot of trust. Wembley is a special stadium."
The City manager also offered this view of the De Bruyne injury to Sky Sports:
Pellegrini on De Bruyne: "The Doctors think it could be his medial ligament, we'll know more tomorrow" https://t.co/VPVGpgBPvN— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 27, 2016
Pellegrini glossed over the controversial moment of the semi-final, as the ball appeared to run out of play before Raheem Sterling pulled back a cross for De Bruyne to bring the tie level at 3-3, with Everton boss Roberto Martinez justifiably irate at the decision.
"Everyone that has seen the replay can clearly see the ball is out of play," said the Everton manager.
"The tie was a real good football game. You don’t expect to concede a goal in that manner. It's very, very hard to take.
"City are a very good side. If they score three goals in the right way then you accept it. The first goal was a deflected shot, but the second goal the ball was clearly out before it was crossed in.
"We have a very good group of young players. I hope we take this display as inspiration."