There have been plenty of shocks already in the Capital One Cup this season.
Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United have bowed out of the tournament, and Sheffield Wednesday dared to dream of claiming another Premier League scalp at half-time last night.
They stifled Manchester City, the cup holders, in the first half, limiting the top flight giants to very few clear cut openings. They can be proud of how they competed in that period as they more than held their own against the champions of England.
But after the interval, City turned on the style, with Wednesday conceding more goals in 45 minutes than they have done all season. Their defence was ripped apart by a rampant home side and, to add insult to injury, Kamil Zayatte was also sent off. City stepped up a gear, flexing their muscles to ensure they began the defence of their trophy with a comprehensive victory.
With one eye on the trip to Cardiff City this weekend, Stuart Gray decided to shuffle his pack, leaving out first-team regulars Keiren Westwood, Glenn Loovens, Jose Semedo and Atdhe Nuhiu. Loovens, the Owls skipper, was the most notable absentee from the match-day squad, with Gray handing the captain’s armband to Chris Kirkland.
City fielded a strong looking side, featuring Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Edin Dzeko. England goalkeeper Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany were named on the bench, but Manuel Pellegrini a paid big compliment to Wednesday with his team selection.
Wednesday made an early statement of intent, with Joe Mattock and Tom Lees making two crunching challenges in quick succession on Bacary Sagna and Dzeko respectively. Playing with a lot of quality and composure, the visitors threatened to unlock City’s defence in the sixth minute when Jacques Maghoma floated in a teasing cross towards the back post and Madine escaped his marker only for the forward to fluff his lines, directing his header into the ground and safely into the arms of Willy Caballero.
The majority of City’s danger came from the right flank in the first period.
Sagna sent in a low cross which found James Milner, but the England international drilled his right foot effort straight at Kirkland.
Gray’s men survived a big scare in the 18th minute when Eliaquim Mangala’s fierce volley from Aleksandar Kolarov’s corner struck the right-hand post, with Kirkland beaten, and then bounced away to safety.
Spurred on by 5,400 fans, Wednesday continued to press and harry City , making light, at that stage, of the huge gulf in spending powers between the two clubs. Switching Liam Palmer and Jacques Maghoma into midfield gave the Owls more energy and creativity in the middle of the park.
Sagna darted towards the byline and clipped in an inviting cross which Dzeko headed forwards but Kirkland was equal to it.
As the half wore on, City started to find more space in the wide positions. It took a superb clearance by Joe Mattock to hack Milner’s dangerous centre behind for a corner, with the lively Jesus Navas lurking behind.
Tom Lees then made an outstanding block to prevent Dzeko from testing the reflexes of Kirkland, after a positive run by Navas.
Although City enjoyed the bulk of the possession and shaded territory, Wednesday had their moments. A neat one-two between Palmer and Stevie May led to the Scotland Under-21 star trying his luck from distance but his attempt drifted well wide.
Lampard’s goal just after the interval certainly opened things up!
Giles Coke forced Caballero into a stop after a fine free kick by Joe Mattock following a crude challenge by Mangala on Chris Maguire.
Navas, a constant menace , spearheaded a rapid counter attack, setting up Lampard, whose drive was turned away by Kirkland.
City grabbed a second in the 52nd minute, Dzeko hitting his 10th goal in 11 League Cup appearances, coolly side-footing in Navas’ cut-back.
It got worse for Wednesday a minute later as Navas rifled in an unstoppable third after a mesmerising dribble.
The Owls simply could not contain a rampant City side, and, frankly, there are not many teams in the land who could lived with them in that second period.
Maguire blazed a shot over before the hosts increased their lead when Zayatte was adjudged to have brought down Lampard. Referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot and brandished a red card in Zayatte’s direction, deeming the Guinea international to be the last man. Toure made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Kirkland the wrong way.
City had significantly stepped up their level and came close to bagging a fifth by Milner’s left foot strike struck the post, and Dzeko lashed over the follow up.
Kirkland had to be alert mid-way through the half to thwart Milner with his legs after the hard-working midfielder raced on to Fernandinho’s incisive pass.
To their credit, Wednesday kept battling and almost got on the score-sheet in the 70th minute courtesy of May.
He cut inside and unleashed a rasping right foot shot which Caballero could only parry, and Nuhiu failed to make the most of the loose ball.
Navas released Dzeko in the 75th minute but from an acute angle he fired off target as City continued to commit plenty of bodies forward.
Ultimately, Dzeko was not be denied, powering home Kolarov’s beautiful delivery to inflict more agony on Wednesday’s backline.
City weren’t finished there and substitute Jose Pozo, on his debut, slotted home a sixth after Navas caused havoc yet again on the right flank.
And Lampard justified his man of the match award by sliding in City’s seventh in added time.
Manchester City: (4-4-1-1): Caballero; Sagna, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov; Navas, Fernandinho (Boyota 70), Lampard, Milner (Sinclair 73); Toure (Pozo64), Dzeko. Substitutes: Hart, Kompany, Clichy, Bytyqi.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Kirkland; Buxton, Zayatte, Lees, Mattock; Maguire, Palmer (Helan 70), Coke (Dielna 61), Maghoma, Madine (Nuhiu 61), May. Substitutes: Westwood, Semedo, Drenthe, Hope.
Bookings: Mangala, Zayatte sent off 58
Goals: Lampard (47, 90), Dzeko (53, 77), Navas (54), Toure (60), Pozo (88).
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)