Five things we loved about West Ham United's Carabao Cup win over Manchester City
1. Unbeatable Areola
Alphonse Areola has made a near-perfect start to his West Ham United career, keeping clean sheets in each of his first four appearances for the Club.
The 28-year-old produced his best performance yet on Wednesday night, making seven important saves to help the Hammers knock Manchester City out of the Carabao Cup.
The France international was unbeatable in normal time, making a succession outstanding stops and other interventions to keep the holders out.
Cole Palmer, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Riyad Mahrez and Oleksandr Zinchenko were all denied, while Areola reacted quickly to hack the ball away before İlkay Gündoğan could pounce.
While Areola did not save any of City’s penalties, he did enough to force Phil Foden to put the visitors’ first spot-kick wide of the post, paving the way for West Ham’s 5-3 shootout victory.
2. Opening Daws
Craig Dawson’s performances since losing his place in West Ham United’s Premier League starting XI are a perfect illustration of what makes David Moyes’ squad so special.
Dawson helped the Hammers go unbeaten in their opening four top-flight matches, before being replaced by new signing Kurt Zouma in mid-September.
No matter, Dawson has started four cup matches since then – two in the UEFA Europa League and two in the Carabao Cup – and won all four without conceding a single goal.
The centre-back, who also weighed in with the opening goal in the 3-0 Europa League win over KRC Genk last week, was outstanding again in Wednesday’s win.
The 31-year-old’s all-round defensive contribution was superb, while he also stepped up to confidently blast home West Ham’s third penalty.
3. Nobes’ redemption
In what is his final season as a West Ham United player, Mark Noble will surely not enjoy many better nights than Wednesday’s win.
Not only did the 34-year-old lead his team to victory over one of the best teams in world football, but he also buried the demons that have haunted him since missing a last-gasp Premier League penalty against Manchester United last month.
Showing the character that has set him apart over the last 17 seasons, Noble stepped up to confidently convert West Ham’s first penalty and set the foundations for a famous shootout victory.
The win initially reduced Noble to what looked like tears before, spotting his wife Carly and children Lenny and Honey in the stand, the No16 celebrated with a huge smile on his face, and who could blame him?
4. Saïd on the spot
Mark Noble was not the only West Ham United player to have friends and family present for Wednesday’s memorable win.
Saïd Benrahma was cheered on by his loved ones, along with seemingly hundreds of Algerian supporters, who adorned London Stadium with their colourful green and white national flags.
With compatriot Riyad Mahrez in action for Manchester City, it was an evening to celebrate for fans from the football-obsessed North African country, with many taking advantage of reduced ticket prices to be part of a Club record EFL Cup crowd in east London.
They cheered loudly when Benrahma was introduced as a second-half substitute, but saved the real celebrations for the moment the No22 slammed West Ham’s vital fifth penalty past Zack Steffen to send the Hammers through to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
Benrahma raced to the corner of the pitch to celebrate before spotting his friends and family in the stand and posing for some joyful photographs.
It was a moment to savour on an evening to savour.
5. Records broken
Not only did West Ham United prise Manchester City’s hands off the Carabao Cup trophy for the first time since 2017, but they did so playing in front of a record home crowd in the competition’s 62-year history.
Some 59,902 supporters filled London Stadium on Wednesday evening, many of them first-time visitors and thousands of them youngsters who witnessed history in the making.
The attendance broke the previous record of 50,270, set for the fourth-round tie with Tottenham Hotspur on 31 October 2018.
While that game ended in defeat, this one ended in glorious victory, capping a night the Club could be truly proud of, on and off the pitch.