Chelsea and Manchester City reach the EFL Cup semi-finals, but choke during the weekend to help Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur gain some leverage.
There will not be a repeat of last season’s English Cup final between Manchester City and Arsenal. While City scraped through on penalties against Leicester City, Arsenal were eliminated by an in-form Tottenham Hotspur, who came into Emirates Stadium and grabbed a 2-0 victory. The Spurs and The Citizens will be joined by Chelsea, who defeated Bournemouth thanks to a late Eden Hazard strike, and League One out fit Burton. The semi-final draw was made and pitted Chelsea and Tottenham against each other, which means Manchester City should be well on their way to their second straight English Cup final. Having won the competition in three of the past five years, they’re certainly the favorites to win it all once more.
Other than the English Cup, the Bundesliga was also active mid-week. The action saw Borussia Dortmund suffer a stunning defeat at the hands of Dusseldorf. Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich exploited the hiccup, each recording a victory of its own. Monchengladbach’s was a relatively easy one against Nurnberg, whereas Bayern’s was a tightly-contested one versus RB Leipzig (1-0), a game in which Renato Sanches and Stefan Ilsanker were sent off in stoppage time. However, Borussia Dortmund made up for lost ground on Friday by besting Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 at Westfalenstadion. Bayern then leapfrogged Monchengladbach by crushing Eintracht 3-0 in what was a triumphant return for Niko Kovac to Frankfurt.
The biggest shock over the weekend came in Manchester, where The Citizens unexpectedly gave way to Crystal Palace. It was quite a remarkable result made possible by the goal of the season so far in the Premier League – a thunderous long-range volley by Andros Townsend.
OH MY GOD ANDROS TOWNSEND!!!
A goal of a season candidate has Palace shockingly ahead of Man City 😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/KCqouCVctz
— The Sports Quotient (@SportsQuotient) December 22, 2018
The win was Crystal Palace’s first at Manchester City in 28 years. Liverpool defeated Wolverhampton on Friday, meaning The Reds now have some breathing room at the top of the PL table. The other Manchester team had a much better weekend. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s debut in United’s bench was a highly successful one. The Red Devils looked rejuvenated in the absence of Mourinho and smashed five past Cardiff in a convincing 5-1 road victory. Tottenham kept pace with the top two while at the same time running away from Chelsea by defeating Everton 6-2 away from home on Sunday. Meanwhile, The Blues were caught by surprise by Leicester City. A lone strike by Jamie Vardy was enough for the visitors to steal three valuable points from Sarri and his squad.
Elsewhere around Europe, Juventus claimed another narrow 1-0 victory, this time against rivals Roma. Mario Mandzukic was the scorer of the goal that extends Juventus’ historic start to the Serie A season. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid took care of business against Espanyol (1-0) and Celta Vigo (2-0), respectively, whereas Sevilla could only manage a draw away to Leganes (1-1). At this point, LaLiga looks more like a two-horse race. While that was going on, Real Madrid became the first team ever to win three consecutive Club World Cups by defeating Al Ain 4-1.