England - Capital One Cup
As good as Manchester City were, however—as they lived up to their record this season of averaging four goals a game at home—West Ham were equally if not even more abject, producing the second awful cup performance in four days following Sunday’s 5-0 loss against Championship side Nottingham Forest.
"Today was an important result for us," Pellegrini noted afterwards to Sky Sports. "Today we have one leg in the final.
"The most important thing was not to score the six goals, but it was the way this team played. If we continue to play this way, then the goals will come."
Pellegrini named a strong side for the tie, with the presence of the likes of Toure, Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta suggesting he did not want to risk a repeat of the surprise loss that afflicted rivals Manchester United in the first leg of the other semi-final 24 hours earlier.
His opposite number wasn't afforded quite so many luxuries, however, with Sam Allardyce feeling forced to throw loan signing Roger Johnson straight in for an immediate debut alongside George McCartney in a makeshift centre-back pairing that did not inspire confidence.
It was to be a selection decision that would not work out.
Allardyce had suggested before kick-off that a draw would constitute a good result for the Hammers, but to the manager’s likely dismay, his side were behind after just 12 minutes and never really looked like they would recover.
It was Negredo who broke the deadlock, the Spaniard stealing in between McCartney and Joey O’Brien to volley home Toure’s long ball over the top in one fluid movement.
Fourteen minutes later it was 2-0, with Negredo again the player celebrating. This time it was he and strike partner Dzeko who combined, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international slipping Negredo through with a slide-rule pass that he took in his stride before lifting over the onrushing Adrian with a stretching finish.
The beleaguered Hammers goalkeeper had made two fine saves prior to that—from David Silva and Samir Nasri, respectively—while there had also been a scare for Yaya Toure, who was briefly forced off the pitch after seeming to injury his knee while making a tackle.
But the midfielder was able to return to the action soon after, and it was he who would get the game’s third goal.
If the opening two goals hinted at West Ham’s defensive frailties, then it was the third that fully exposed them—and perhaps ended the tie in the process. Toure picked up the ball on the halfway line and was then able to run completely unchallenged all the way into the box before stopping on the ball and side-footing a shot at goal that Adrian was again unable to stop.