Alvaro Negredo grabbed a hat-trick as Manchester City crushed West Ham United 6-0 in their League Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday in another body blow for the beleaguered London club.
City effectively sealed their place in the final at Wembley with another one-sided demonstration of their attacking potency, Edin Dzeko with two and Yaya Toure joining Negredo on the scoresheet.
It was the second time in four days that West Ham have conceded more than five goals after they were knocked out of the FA Cup 5-0 by second tier Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
While City can now relax ahead of the return leg on Jan. 21, the result ratcheted up the pressure on West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, whose side are 19th in the Premier League.
“Our best team simply wasn’t good enough against Manchester City,” Allardyce said on Sky Sports.
“You have to give them credit for what an outstanding side they are. Our players were running to try and stop them but because of their skills and abilities they couldn’t get near them.”
Providing City safely negotiate the second leg, they will face Sunderland or Manchester United in the final on March 2.
“It was a brilliant performance,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said.
“It doesn’t matter if we were two, three or four up we kept playing the same way, always looking for more goals.
“Alvaro Negredo had a great match, he was the link between the strikers and midfield but Edin Dzeko was great too. They are not used to playing together but they are getting better all the time.”
The omens were stacked in City’s favour with the match pitching the Premier League’s highest scorers against a defence which had conceded 13 goals in four games since Christmas.
It was eight years since West Ham had last won at City and few predicted that their injury-ravaged squad could get a positive result.