Manchester: Kevin De Bruyne met with controversy, glory and injury as Manchester City defeated Everton 3-1 on Wednesday night to set up a League Cup final showdown with Liverpool next month.
Goal-bound: Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne (second from left) shoots against Everton in the League Cup semi-final second leg encounter at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Wednesday night
Everton extended their 2-1 advantage from the first leg when Ross Barkley scored a fine individual goal in the 18th minute, but Fernandinho quickly equalised before substitute De Bruyne levelled the tie and then set up Sergio Aguero to complete a 4-3 aggregate victory in the 76th minute.
Replay reveals truth
Replays, however, suggested that Raheem Sterling had taken the ball beyond the byline before cutting it back for De Bruyne to score and the former Wolfsburg winger finished the match on a stretcher after his knee buckled in a late challenge with Ramiro Funes Mori.
With David Silva orchestrating the hosts' attacks, City looked to dictate the game, but Everton posed a threat on the break and after menacing incursions by Gerard Deulofeu and Barkley, the England playmaker extended the visitors' aggregate lead.
Grounded: Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne lies on the ground injured. He was subsequently stretchered off following an injury to his right knee. Pics/AFP
Barkley evaded the sliding Nicolas Otamendi and foxed Fabian Delph with a stylish feint before steering a low shot into City goalkeeper Willy Caballero's bottom-right.
Barkley opens scoring
Barkley's strike left City needing two goals to stay in the tie, but after Sterling had tested Joel Robles and Yaya Toure had curled over, they halved the aggregate deficit. After Aguero's shot was blocked by returning Everton skipper Phil Jagielka, Fernandinho followed in with a right-foot drive that clipped Leighton Baines' heel and left Robles stranded.
Later, City boss Manuel Pellegrini replaced Toure with De Bruyne, City's record $78.3 million signing, and four minutes after coming on the Belgian levelled. Sterling had moved to the left following Navas' entrance and he showed John Stones a clean pair of heels before pulling the ball back for De Bruyne, who side-footed home.
Replays showed that the ball had just crossed the line before Sterling played it into the box. Six minutes later when De Bruyne shaped a cross into the box from the right and Aguero glanced a deft header to send City to Wembley. De Bruyne's night though ended prematurely when he went down on the corner of the Everton box injuring his right knee and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
City manager Pellegrini however was optimistic that de Bruyne's season wasn't over. "The doctor thinks, but he cannot be sure, that it's a problem in his medial ligament. I'm optimistic he won't be out for the rest of the season," Pellegrini said.