Manchester City took 90 minutes plus stoppage time against West Ham at Upton Park to officially claim their place in the Capital One Cup final with their 3-0 victory (9-0 aggregate).
If the 6-0 lead the Sky Blues took into the second leg of this tie did not make them comfortable enough, Alvaro Negredo's opening goal (pictured above) inside of three minutes played surely did.
Marcos Lopes wears what Major League Baseball players would call a spring training number (64), but his cross onto Negredo's forehead was truly a display of midseason form. Most noteworthy in this shot is how the Hammers, who almost surely heard from manager Sam Allardyce before the match on how vital a good start would be, gave Negredo a free sprint to goal.
Lopes also featured in City's second goal, though it was Sergio Aguero who finished the play this time.
Negredo's opener could have been scored by just about any striker given the quality of Lopes' cross. By contrast, Aguero's goal was the sort that very few strikers could manage so easily. By the time Aguero had crossed the face of goal, two West Ham defenders had quite literally fallen over each other. Jussi Jaaskelainen had as much chance of stopping Aguero's wrong-footing strike as you did.
Negredo completed the scoring for City with another goal that had to leave Allardyce and his lieutenants completely bewildered.
How exactly does Negredo get the ball outside the area and not encounter a claret shirt until he is in scoring position? Negredo's dink finish was very clever. It was also quite obviously the only way he could score by the time he got close enough to Jaaskelainen to smell the keeper's breath and know what he ate for lunch.
The only disconcerting development for City coming out of this formality of a match was seeing Negredo take a (sort of) nasty spill onto his right shoulder in the last ten minutes. Negredo finished the match, though, and almost surely will not be needed when City face Watford in the fourth round of the FA Cup this weekend.
The 3-0 score line certainly flattered City. West Ham saw Ravel Morrison's legitimate penalty claim early in the second half denied, and West Ham failed to bury more than one header from the center of the six-yard box.
But West Ham did not miss out on ten legitimate scoring chances, which is how many they would have needed to convert to take City's place at Wembley Stadium in the Capital One Cup final.
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