Manchester: Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City of Manchester United’s powers of recovery after his side outclassed their city rivals 3-1 at Old Trafford to put one foot in the League Cup final.
The holders were rampant before the break as Bernardo Silva’s wonder strike, Riyad Mahrez’s cool finish and an own goal from Andreas Pereira put City well on course for a third straight final.
United’s captain for the evening Marcus Rashford restored some pride for the hosts to reduce the deficit 20 minutes from time, but they face a huge task when the sides meet again for the semi-final, second leg on January 29.
However, Guardiola remains wary after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men recovered from losing 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in last season’s Champions League last 16 to progress.
“It’s a good result, but it is not over because it is United,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“Last season is a good example against PSG. Hopefully in front of our fans we can make a good game and reach the final.”
United have shown their ability to win at the Etihad already this season as they tore City apart on the counter-attack to shock the Premier League champions on home soil just a month ago.
But City restored their recent dominance of this fixture with a third consecutive win at Old Trafford and a fourth in five away derbies since Guardiola took charge.
The Catalan responded to the problems United posed his side last time out by deploying an extra midfielder with both City strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus left on the bench.
Guardiola’s tactical plan worked to perfection as a fluid front four of Silva, Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne were too fleet of foot and thought for a United defence without the injured Harry Maguire.
“I enjoyed it a lot, especially because it worked,” said Silva. “I think the first half was the perfect 45 minutes, we could even have gone to half-time winning four or five because we missed a few chances.”
The Portuguese international was back to his best and opened the floodgates by smashing a shot into the top corner from outside the box on 17 minutes.
Silva turned creator for City’s second as one pass split the United defence and Mahrez rounded David de Gea to slot into an empty net.
Five minutes later, it was 3-0 as De Bruyne left Phil Jones flat on the ground before his powerful shot was parried by de Gea into the path of the unfortunate Pereira, who could only turn the ball into his own goal.
“From their goal until halftime is the worst we’ve played,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters. “From the first goal until halftime we couldn’t cope. We let them play, our heads dropped, we made decisions we shouldn’t and it needed sorting at half time.
“It’s natural your head goes down when you feel you’re not performing, but we’ve got to get out of it quicker... It can’t be me coming in at halftime, that’s the learning this team [must do].
“We’ve got a young team. I’ve said it a few times but it’s not going to change between every press conference, that statement. I’m still in that phase. It’s a young team and we’re learning and these experiences must stick,” he added.