Holders Manchester City booked their place in the semi-finals of the League Cup as Raheem Sterling’s second-half double warded off a shock by League One Oxford in a 3-1 win at the Kassam Stadium.
Manchester United ended fourth-tier Colchester United’s fairytale run with a 3-0 win at Old Trafford, while Leicester survived a second-half fightback from Everton to secure their place in the last four 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Aston Villa completes the semi-finalists after they thrashed Liverpool’s youngest ever side 5-0 on Tuesday with the European champions’ first team away at the Club World Cup.
City have won this competition for the past two seasons and Pep Guardiola showed his intent to keep hold of the trophy by naming a strong side.
Joao Cancelo’s first goal for the English champions opened the scoring midway through the first half, but City were momentarily stunned when Matty Taylor levelled a minute into the second half.
Sterling quickly restored the visitors’ lead as he tapped home a wonderful cross from Angelino.
But City men were put under intense pressure for a spell and needed Claudio Bravo to make a fine save from Tariqe Fosu’s shot.
Guardiola introduced Gabriel Jesus from the bench in a bid to kill the tie off and it was from the Brazilian’s cross that Sterling tapped home his second 20 minutes from time.
United patience pays off
Manchester United had to be patient before seeing off Colchester, who had beaten Tottenham and Crystal Palace to make the last eight.
Marcus Rashford was guilty of missing a host of chances in a goalless first half.
However, the England international made amends six minutes into the second period with a calm finish to register a career-best 14th goal of the season.
Rashford was also the creator of United’s other two goals as Ryan Jackson turned a cross into his own net before Anthony Martial stretched to convert at the back post.
Leicester travel to City in the Premier League on Saturday, four points ahead of the champions in second place.
And the Foxes will also have a semi-final to look forward to in the new year as they held their nerve from the spot after blowing a comfortable lead.
James Maddison and Jonny Evans struck in five first-half minutes to give the visitors a 2-0 half-time lead.
Ben Davies gave Everton hope 20 minutes from time and a sensational long-range strike from Leighton Baines sent the game to penalties.
Maddison then saw his spot-kick saved to start the shootout, but Kasper Schmeichel was Leicester’s hero with saves from Cenk Tosun and Baines before Jamie Vardy scored the decisive penalty.