City showed no mercy against a beleaguered West Ham United as Manuel Pellegrini’s men took a giant step towards the Capital One Cup final.
The Blues ripped apart the Hammers with three goals in each half making the second leg of this semi-final surely little more than a box-ticking exercise.
That’s 92 goals in all competitions so far this season for the Blues and this talented side promise to add dozens more in the months to come.
There was a time during the 1970s when City threatened to dominate what was the unsponsored League Cup.
Three final appearances and two victories in just six years – then nothing for 38 years! There have been semi-final appearances, but each time they’ve ended in defeat to Liverpool (twice) and Manchester United.
West Ham, only separated from the foot of the Premier League by another of this season’s semi-finalists – Sunderland - represented a real opportunity to end the barren run in this competition and set up a possible all Manchester final at Wembley.
The Hammers came into this game on the back of Sunday’s humiliating 5-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest, though it’s worth noting Sam Allardyce made eight changes from the team that began that game at the City Ground while the Blues made just four from the starting line-up at Blackburn.
The under-pressure Allardyce must have feared the worst when Pablo Zabaleta’s challenge in the box gave Negredo a half-chance with barely three minutes on the clock, but the Spaniard’s close-range attempt was saved by Adrian.
But if that had been the Blues’ warning shot across the bow, it wasn’t heeded by the visitors who fell behind after 12 minutes with a goal that would have undone many a defence more watertight than theirs as Yaya Toure played a 50-yard pass from the halfway line into the path of Negredo who timed his run to perfection as he volleyed home from ten yards without having to adjust his stride.
It was a goal that had class written all over it and 14 minutes later The Beast had doubled his and City’s tally as he rocketed a shot into the roof of the net after being put through by a peach of a pass from Edin Dzeko.
It was the Spaniard’s 17th goal of an already memorable first campaign in England and with less than half-an-hour on the clock it didn’t bode well for the visitors who offered little in the way of resistance, spirit or heart in what was fast becoming a walk in the park for the Blues.
And, of course, it was only going to get worse for Big Sam and the 4,000 or so travelling Hammers fans. Five minutes before the break the game – and arguably the semi-final – seemed as good as over as Yaya Toure powered virtually unchallenged from his own half before burying a low shot past Adrian to make it 3-0.
At times it was hard to believe we were watching a major domestic cup semi-final as City cruised at a leisurely pace and it was just a question of how many they would declare at on the night, so abject were the visitors.
Negredo completed his hat-trick – his second of the season – less than five minutes after the re-start and Dzeko’s hard work was rewarded almost exactly on the hour-mark as he slid home Gael Clichy’s low cross to make it 5-0.
It was the sixth time City have scored five or more goals in a game during the 2013/14 campaign – and fittingly, there was still one more goal to come as Dzeko thundered home his second just before the end of normal time.
Enough, you’d guess, for the majority of Blues supporters to start making plans for yet another Wembley trip in March.