By Mike McGrath ,AFp
LONDON — Sergio Aguero came off the bench to send Manchester City into the League Cup semifinals with a 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. The Argentina striker netted his 12th goal of the season when he settled the tie with seven minutes remaining, finishing off a swift counterattack which started in City’s own penalty area. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, finalists last season, enjoyed the better chances before Aguero struck and forced saves from Costel Pantilimon before their nine-match unbeaten run was ended. Between the two clubs, only one player remained from their starting lineups at the weekend, with both managers choosing to rotate their squad and give fringe players a chance. That one player was Samir Nasri, with the France midfielder receiving jeers from home fans following his move from Arsenal to City at the start of the season. Nasri drifted in and out of the action during an open quarterfinal where both teams appeared intent on attacking. City were the first to create an opening, with England winger Adam Johnson firing just over the crossbar from 25 yards with 10 minutes on the clock. Arsenal went close a minute later after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started an attack on the right flank. The ball was worked to Francis Coquelin and his low cross found Park Ju-Young six yards from goal. Park’s finish appeared to be heading for the corner of the net but City goalkeeper Pantilimon flung out his hand as he dived to his left and tipped around the post. Pantilimon was called into action again when Oxlade-Chamberlain exchanged passes with Marouane Chamakh and drove towards the top corner from the edge of the area, with the Romanian youngster deflecting the ball over. There was confusion just after the half-hour mark when City wanted to make a substitution. Nasri appeared to be heading towards the touchline and was booed by supporters, but it was Aleksandar Kolarov who made way for Aguero. Kolarov also appeared to be upset with the substitution as he took his seat on the bench. Both teams went close after the interval, firstly when Edin Dzeko curled wide of the post with an effort from 25 yards out. The Bosnia striker was also off target with a finish when he met Pablo Zabaleta’s cross with a volley.
At the other end, Oxlade-Chamberlain cut inside from the right, tricked his marker with a step-over and forced Pantilimon to punch away with his save. Chamakh also went over the bar after being slipped through by Yossi Benayoun, who was captain for the evening. Wenger made his move midway through the second half, replacing Park with Gervinho in an attempt to break the deadlock. But the decisive moment came with seven minutes remaining after Dzeko carried the ball forward from his own penalty area. After threading the ball through for Johnson, the touch back to Aguero was perfect for him to run forward and finish confidently past Lukasz Fabianski.