NEIL WARNOCK drew solace despite Leeds United’s heavy Capital One Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Chelsea – with his side’s hopes of joining White Rose rivals Bradford City in the last four dashed.
A powerhouse second-half display from Rafa Benitez’s Blues blew away United 5-1 in front of 33,816 at Elland Road as they booked a semi-final clash with Swansea City, with Phil Parkinson’s City being drawn against Aston Villa.
City will play the Midlanders in the first leg at Valley Parade in the week commencing January 7, with the return leg taking place at Villa Park a fortnight later.
City’s West Yorkshire rivals United were bidding for their first semi-final appearance in a major Cup competition since 1996, but it was not to be as the Londoners displayed their class on the restart.
A 38th-minute strike from Luciano Becchio put United ahead at the interval as the hosts sought a third top-flight scalp after previously sinking Everton and Southampton.
But a mistake early in the second-half from goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown enabled Juan Mata to restore parity and that opened the floodgates with further goals from Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres ensuring a rout.
Warnock said: “To be honest, I was disappointed at half-time because I thought Tom Lees’s header (to make it 2-0) would have made it difficult for them. I thought it was quite an easy chance.
“But overall, I thought we made it a difficult night for them. I have never heard anything like the noise volume when we scored. If we sort ourselves out, that (atmosphere) should be here every week.
“It showed what can be done at a club like this.
“But a mistake cost us the equaliser and world-class players had such a relief from a game when they should have been 2-0 down. And then, that was the end of the story really. Their quality just shone through.
“But we move on. We have had a great cup run and experience for us, especially the younger lads.”