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English Premiership

United and Villa go through

LONDON, December 2 – Darron Gibson scored twice as reigning champions Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday to secure their place in the semi-finals of the English League Cup.DARRON_GIBSON_In what was a repeat of last season’s final, which United won on penalties, Republic of Ireland midfielder Gibson struck twice from the edge of the box in the first-half to put United in control.

Anderson’s aggressive run in the 16th minute ended with him laying the ball into the path of Gibson, whose shot into the far corner past Heurelho Gomes gave him his fourth goal of the season.

The 22-year-old Gibson produced an even better finish seven minutes from half-time when, after playing a neat one-two with Danny Welbeck, he curled the ball past Gomes’s despairing dive.

Spurs created several chances but lacked a cutting edge up front.

Afterwards United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said he would keep faith with a largely youthful side for the semi-finals.

"We’re two games away from Wembley, that’s good," he told Sky Sports. "We’ll enjoy the semi-final and these lads will play again."

Ferguson praised Gibson’s performance, saying: "He did well. The second goal particularly, the movement and working off the ball was good and a terrific finish.

"Gibson and Anderson did very well in the middle of the park."

Ferguson had been criticised for fielding a young side last week when United lost to Turkish club Besiktas in the Champions League.

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"It was a good team performance following last week," said Gibson.

"We bounced back and the young lads did well. We didn’t go out to try and prove anything.

"Sometimes you have bad days and today was a good day."

Dejected Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp added: "I’m very disappointed. You’re never going to get a better opportunity than we did tonight.

"We’ve been playing so well recently but there was no atmosphere tonight.

"It was like a practice match, it just never got going."

In the day’s other all Premier League quarter-final, Aston Villa won 4-2 away to top-flight basement club Portsmouth.

Pompey went ahead through an own goal from Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov but Martin O’Neill’s men were in front before half-time thanks to goals from England duo Emile Heskey and James Milner.

Stewart Downing marked his first start for Villa by sealing the Midlands club’s win 16 minutes from time.

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Substitute Nwankwo Kanu pulled a goal back for Pompey in the 87th minute but a minute from time Ashley Young scored Villa’s fourth.

O’Neill, who twice led Leicester to League Cup glory, said: "As the Champions League seems to have grown in stature, the League Cup has lost a bit of its lustre. But, if you’d seen the line-up for the quarter-finals, it was very strong indeed.

"The competition seems to have galvanised itself again, with Chelsea and United wanting to win it. Manchester City are very strong, Arsenal are still there. It’s particularly pleasing to be in there with that group of teams.

"It would be nice to win a trophy."

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant – whose first match in charge saw Manchester United defeat his side 4-1 last Saturday – said top-flight survival was his priority.

"I don’t like to lose, even a friendly game, but the most important thing for us is the league."

The draw for the semi-finals will be made after Wednesday’s final last eight clashes, both all Premier League contests, between Blackburn and Chelsea and Manchester City and Arsenal.

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