Stoke 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Mark Hughes' side ease into last four
Last Updated: 01/12/15 11:35pm
Stoke booked their place in the last four of the Capital One Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Championship side Sheffield Wednesday at the Britannia Stadium.
Before the game Mark Hughes warned Stoke of complacency against a Sheffield Wednesday side that had seen off Premier League sides Arsenal and Newcastle in previous rounds, and his words seemed to have the desired effect with Ibrahim Afellay's volley giving the hosts the lead in the 29th minute.
After the break Carlos Carvalhal's side went close through Daniel Pudil's shot but just as they started to threaten an equaliser, Stoke, who lost Peter Crouch to injury, made the game safe thanks to substitute Phil Bardsley's 75th-minute free-kick.
Victory sees Stoke, who take their place in Wednesday night's semi-final draw, reach the last four of the League Cup for the first time since lifting the trophy in the 1971-72 season.
Stoke made five changes to the side that were beaten 2-0 away at Sunderland with Crouch, Marc Wilson, Geoff Cameron, Marco van Ginkel and Afellay all coming into the side.
However, Hughes was forced into a change after just 13 minutes when Crouch, making just his sixth start of the season, was forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by Joselu.
A minute later, the Spaniard was straight into action laying the ball off to Glen Johnson to thread the ball through to Jonathan Walters, who shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Sheffield Wednesday, who made seven changes of their own, were struggling to get a foothold in the match but were nearly handed one when Marko Arnautovic gifted Kieran Lee possession on the halfway line. The midfielder burst forward before clipping a cross towards Gary Hooper but the former Celtic striker could not make any connection.
That was to be the Championship side's only real chance of the half and they found themselves behind in the 29th minute when Afellay showed great technique to volley Joselu's cross past Joe Wildsmith and into the bottom corner.
The goal sparked Stoke into life and they were inches away from extending their lead with Walters just failing to connect with Erik Pieters' cross.
Just moments before the break Hughes' men had another chance when Pudil - on in place of the injured Tom Lees - left his back-pass short but Wildsmith was quickly off his line to beat Joselu to the ball.
Both sides made changes at the break with Phil Bardsley replacing Glen Johnson for the hosts and Lewis McGugan coming on place of Jack Hunt as Carvalhal switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
But it was Stoke who continued to press forward as Joselu failed to get enough power on a free header to trouble Wildsmith from Afellay's corner.
Stoke almost extended their lead in the 59th minute when Joselu's shot was well saved by the leg of Wildsmith and Afellay's follow-up was blocked by Modou Sougou.
After that Wednesday started to build some pressure on the Premier League side with Rhoys Wiggins and Ross Wallace testing the Stoke defence with crosses but Carvalhal's side were struggling to test Jack Butland.
They did have one brief sight of the England goalkeeper's goal when Pudil sent a volley inches wide, but Stoke then wrapped things up with 15 minutes to play as Van Ginkel touched off a free-kick to Bardsley, who fired a powerful shot in off the post to seal his side's semi-final place.
And Hughes will be hoping history repeats itself as he targets next year's Wembley final because on every occasion Stoke have reached the semi-finals of the League Cup they have gone on to reach the final.