Manchester City’s four-year reign as EFL Cup champions was ended in dramatic fashion as West Ham United beat them on penalties in the fourth round.
Pep Guardiola’s side have made a habit of winning the first piece of silverware of the English season, lifting the trophy in five of the past six seasons, including each of the four most recent. However, they were frustrated by a compact, diligent West Ham side who are establishing quite the reputation for themselves this season.
U.S. international Zack Steffen was tested in the first half by Mark Noble’s fearsome long-range drive as supporters flocked to the London Stadium in the hope of seeing West Ham continue their fine form against the holders. At the other end, highly rated young striker Cole Palmer had the pick of Manchester City’s chances as they battled to extend their five-year unbeaten run in EFL Cup ties. The introduction of Foden and Gabriel Jesus brought further pressure on the Hammers’ goal in the closing stages, though it was not enough to avoid the lottery of penalties.
However, Foden fired wide right with City’s first spot kick and West Ham were faultless at the other end, with Said Benrahma cool under the pressure of the fifth penalty as David Moyes’ side became the first team to eliminate Guardiola from this competition in five years and one day.
Away to Championship opposition, Liverpool fielded a notably weakened side, bearing 11 changes from the one crushed Manchester United on Sunday, with Tyler Morton stepping into midfield and fellow youngster Harvey Blair in the front three. Certainly Preston offered a tougher test to Jurgen Klopp’s side. Indeed, the Lilywhites had by far the better chances early on, Adrian saving from Brad Potts moments before Sean Maguire put a close-range shot straight at the Liverpool goalkeeper. Then it was Neco Williams’ turn to bail the Premier League side out of danger, clearing Ryan Ledson’s effort off the line.
However, Liverpool grew into the contest in the second half, Takumi Minamino firing the Reds into the lead with their first shot on target. That rather killed off Preston’s belief, with the visitors dominating possession and territory, taking the air out of Deepdale, before Divock Origi’s brilliant backheel volley fired the Premier League side to quarterfinals for the second time in five years.
The pick of the scoring action came at the King Power Stadium where Leicester and Brighton drew 2-2 before a 4-2 shootout win for the former. Harvey Barnes pounced on poor distribution out from defense by the Brighton backline, netting his second goal of the season with a smart finish from just inside the penalty area, but Adam Webster made amends for his error, turning in at close range from a corner. That was not the end of a barmy period before the half time whistle that saw Ademola Lookman restore Leicester’s lead off another mistake from the visiting defense.
Barnes could have had another, but he fired Patson Daka’s through ball too close to Jason Steele. On a night where Graham Potter’s side looked extremely vulnerable at the back but dangerous in attack, Enoch Mwepu netted their second equalizer with 19 minutes left. Having saved them in normal time, Mwepu saw his penalty saved by Danny Ward, Neal Maupay also hitting the crossbar as Leicester booked their spot in the last eight.
Tottenham got back to winning ways at Burnley in what was another slow attacking display. Though it took them an hour to register their first shot on target it was soon followed by a second, this one seeing substitute Lucas Moura head Emerson Royal’s cross beyond Nick Pope.
Meanwhile, Brentford are on course to match their run to the semifinal last season after a 2-1 win over Stoke. Sergi Canos and Ivan Toney netted in the first half before Romaine Sawyers pulled one back just before the hour-mark. The Championship side certainly had the better of the closing stages but were unable to find an equaliser as they exited the competition.
Sunderland, Chelsea and Arsenal had already booked their place in the last eight with victories on Tuesday. The draw will take place on Saturday.