Football

Nine goals a sign of respect to Burton: Guardiola

Man City record biggest ever semi-final win in any English cup competition

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his side's 9-0 hammering of Burton Albion in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at the Etihad yesterday morning (Singapore time) was a mark of respect to the League One side.

City were 4-0 up at half-time but continued to rip apart their vastly outclassed opponents as they ran up the biggest margin of victory in an English cup semi-final.

Gabriel Jesus scored four with Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez also on target against Nigel Clough's third-tier side, as City ensured their visit to the Pirelli Stadium on Jan 23 is a mere formality.

After also thrashing Rotherham United 7-0 in the FA Cup last Sunday with a much-changed side, Guardiola was able to again rest a number of his key players, but named a strong side with de Bruyne continuing his comeback from injury.

Said the Spaniard: "Of course we are already in the final. We have to play second leg and we will take it seriously...

"If you forget to continue (attacking), you don't have respect for your opponent or for the competition.

"We spoke about it at halftime, to play simply and try to score more goals.

"That is the best way to respect the competition and opponent. The best way is to do what you have to do."

Former Southampton and Derby County fullback Danny Higginbotham agreed, saying it would have been "unprofessional" for City to have eased off.

He told Sky Sports: "I've been on the wrong end of some severe scorelines and it's horrible.

"But what's worse is if you get a team that get to four or five and then stop. It's unprofessional...

"It would have been disrespectful for City to go about it any other way."

Far from taking their foot off the pedal, Zinchenko said City were targeting double digits.

Said the Ukrainian: "We scored a lot of goals, we wanted more, and our fans did, too.

"We wished we could get 10, maybe next time... At half-time Pep said keep going in the same way, the same spirit, and if we can score more."

JESUS ENJOYS RIVALRY

The star of the show yesterday, Jesus, meanwhile, said he was enjoying the rivalry with City's all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero for a striking berth.

Said the 21-year-old Brazilian: "I'm here to help the team, to help Sergio, Pep and everyone and work hard, make it happen.

"I just wanted to enjoy the game and score.

"Sergio has scored a lot of goals for City and I respect him as a legend, so when Pep puts him in the team, he helps. I am the same when I am on the pitch.

"It was very important for my mentality. I need to score goals, I know that."

The performance of Jesus and his City teammates in scoring 16 goals in their last two matches shows that Guardiola has his players "fighting for the shirt", according to former England striker Dion Dublin.

He said on the BBC: "When you have got so much quality pushing on more quality, you are going to get better performances.

"Pep Guardiola knows he is going to push Liverpool all the way in the Premier League title race, and this performance shows that he has players fighting for those shirts."

Burton boss Clough, meanwhile, admitted that he feared a worse result.

"We didn't expect anything less given the gulf in class between the teams, we actually feared it could be more," said the 52-year-old, a two-time League Cup winner as a player under his father Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest.

"We've made history with the club getting to the last four of a cup competition.

"Once we saw the three teams (in the semi-finals), it was always going to be trouble."

Football