De Bruyne fear as Man City get over the line against Everton
Dubious goal from injured De Bruyne helps Man City book a League Cup final date against Liverpool
Man City 3 Everton 1 (Man City win 4-3 on aggregate)
There'll be no Merseyside Derby at Wembley in next month's Capital One Cup final after Manchester City fought back against Everton to book a date with Liverpool on 28 February, but may have paid a heavy price after Kevin de Bruyne was stretchered off in the closing minutes of the game.
The Toffees went into last night's second leg clash at the Etihad defending a 2-1 advantage from the first encounter at Goodsion Park, and they got off to the best possible start when Ross Barkley scored a wonderful individual goal on 18 minutes.
His powerful run past Nicolas Otamendi was followed by a sweetly-struck 25-yard shot left City requiring at least two goals in 72 minutes, a feat that did not look likely given their nervy start to the match in which their defence was severely tested by Barkley and Romelu Lukaku.
But the size of their task galvanised City and they were level six minutes later thanks to Fernandinho's deflected shot. That's how the scores remained until midway through the second half when Manuel Pellegrini made the substitution that would turn the tie.
With Everton fans dreaming of their Wembley final since 2009, City introduced De Bruyne for Yaya Toure and ten minutes later City were 3-1 up on the night and 4-3 ahead on aggregate, all because of the Belgian's brilliance, and a slice of good fortune.
City's second goal made the aggregate score 3-3 and left the home side chasing a winner. But television replays showed that when Raheem Sterling cut the ball back for De Bruyne to fire home on 70 minutes it was a yard out of play. Neither the referee nor his linesman noticed, however, and City never looked back.
Five minutes later the Citizens struck again, De Bruyne was this time the provider as his pitch-perfect cross was headed home by Sergio Aguero from 12 yards out.
But the drama wasn't quite at an end and De Bruyne was stretchered off a minute from time with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
That was the only negative on a night for City that sealed their place in next month's final, although even Pellegrini was forced to concede that the ball was out of play in the build up to the second goal. "But that is not the reason why we won," he quickly added. "We won because we scored three goals and Everton had just one chance... we deserve to be in the final."
No surprise that Everton manager Roberto Martinez had a different take on City's controversial second goal, telling reporters: "Everyone that has seen the replay can clearly see the ball is out of play. The tie was a real good football game. You don't expect to concede a goal in that manner. It's very, very hard to take."
De Bruyne will undergo an examination on his knee today but Pellegrini said it was "not a nice injury" and it may well be that the Belgian misses next month's final. "It will be a tough game and we are optimistic we will win the cup," said City's manager. "It is important for the team to win a cup in February, it gives you a lot of trust."