Man United, Aston Villa into League Cup semifinals

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Defending champion Manchester United advanced to the League Cup semifinals on Tuesday by beating Tottenham 2-0, while Aston Villa won 4-2 over Portsmouth.

Updated: December 02, 2009 19:03 IST
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Defending champion Manchester United advanced to the League Cup semifinals on Tuesday by beating Tottenham 2-0, while Aston Villa won 4-2 over Portsmouth.

Man United midfielder Darron Gibson struck twice in the first half in a rematch of last season's final that was won by United in a penalty shootout.

"It was a good team performance following last week. We bounced back and the young lads did well," Gibson said. "We didn't go out to try and prove anything. Sometimes you have bad days and today was a good day."

Anderson was the creator of the 17th-minute opening goal, surging forward before cutting inside to lay the ball into the path of Gibson, whose low shot crept into the corner of the net.

The second came at the end of a flowing move started by Park Ji-sung and continued by Dimitar Berbatov, who picked out Danny Welbeck and played a one-two with Gibson. The midfielder struck high into the net from the edge of the area.

"The movement and working off the ball was good _ and a terrific finish," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Gibson and Anderson did very well in the middle of the park. We're two games away from Wembley, that's good. We'll enjoy the semifinal and these lads will play again."

Ferguson's priorities are the Champions League and Premier League, and so the 67-year-old Scot gave many of his younger players the chance to gain first-team experience.

"We are gaining as a club because they are getting the chance to play in these matches," Ferguson said. "They are all definitely getting better."

But Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, whose side is third in the Premier League just behind United, deployed a strong lineup.

"I am very disappointed. You are never going to get a better opportunity than we did tonight," Redknapp said. "We've been playing so well recently but there was no atmosphere. It was played at a lethargic pace _ we didn't make a tackle in the first half. It was like a practice match, it just never got going."

At Fratton Park, Portsmouth took the lead in the 10th when Villa's Stiliyan Petrov sliced a corner into his own net, but the visitors replied immediately through Emile Heskey.

England winger James Milner struck in the 27th and Stewart Downing added a third goal on his first Villa start in the 74th.

Kanu gave Villa a late scare by pulling one back, but Ashley Young made sure of victory with a fourth goal to send Martin O'Neill's side through.

"As the Champions League seems to have grown in stature, the League Cup has lost a bit of its luster," O'Neill said. "But, if you'd seen the lineup for the quarterfinals, it was very strong indeed. The competition seems to have galvanized itself again, with Chelsea and United wanting to win it."

In the remaining quarterfinal matches on Wednesday, Manchester City hosts Arsenal and Chelsea is at Blackburn.

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