Both Manchester City and Chelsea selected strong teams for today’s League Cup quarterfinals, something that isn’t always a given in this competition, but whereas one set of Blues played to their still overwhelming talent, another fell, crashing out of England’s second cup competition. Defeated 2-1 in extra time, Chelsea were upset at the Stadium of Light by Sunderland, while Manchester City built a three-goal lead before the hour en route to a 3-1 win over second division Leicester City.
The winners move on to the competition’s semifinals, where they’ll be drawn against the survivors of Wednesday’s games: Stoke City versus Manchester City; and Tottenham Hotspur versus West Ham United.
The early exit will be an unaccustomed one for José Mourinho, whose first spell at Chelsea saw his team claim two League Cups, but after an 118th minute goal from Sunderland’s Sung-Yong Ki, the Premier League’s second place side is out, bounced from the competition 2-1 by the first division’s cellar dwellers.
The visiting Blues went up one minute into the second half half through an own goal from Lee Cattermole and were minutes away from advancing to the semifinals before an 88th minute equalizer from former Chelsea prospect Fabio Borini. In extra time, Ki struck two minutes before penalty kicks, moving Guy Poyet’s side one step closer to an unlikely piece of silverware.
For Mourinho, however, the game rang a familiar tune, one in which his seemingly superior side couldn’t find success in front of either goal.
“One team played, one team produced but one team missed chances,” Mourinho said, as relayed by the club’s Twitter account. “Every game we lose is the same story.”
“Maybe the solution is to concede less goals, to be more defensive,” the Chelsea boss mused, speaking to suggestions the team’s defense needs to be protected, “but this is not what I want.”
“In this moment we need to score goals – it is the only thing we need. If we score, we are there.”
The underdogs weren’t as fortunate in the East Midlands, where Manchester City provided a performance you’d expect when one of the Premier League’s most talented teams goes to a second division club. Aleksandar Kolarov scored after seven minutes and Edin Dzeko added two goals on either side of half time, and while Lloyd Dyer pulled one back for the Foxes in the 77th, the Championship side were bounced from the competition, 3-1.
“It was a very professional win, because it is not easy in one week to play Bayern Munich, Arsenal and then finish here playing in the Capital One Cup away,” Manuel Pellegrini said, as distributed by Manchester City’s website.
“It is important to improve in the way we are playing,” Pellegrini explained, talking about an XI that featured eight changes from the team that beat Arsenal on Saturday. “It doesn’t matter if we are playing in Capital One, if we are playing in the Premier League or Champions League. We try to play in the same way, changing names, but trying to continue with one style.
“It’s also important that all the players of the squad know that they are important. Maybe one is playing more than the other, but we have so many games to play during the year.”