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Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010

West Ham annihilates United in League Cup

LONDON (AP) Manchester United's hopes of a third League Cup title in a row were ended Tuesday when it was thrashed 4-0 by a rampant West Ham in a surprisingly one-sided quarterfinal at Upton Park.

United States defender Jonathan Spector and England striker Carlton Cole both scored twice for the Hammers, who inflicted a first defeat of the season in all competitions on their Premier League rivals — a four-time winner of England's second-tier cup competition and the current league leaders.

In the night's other match, Arsenal easily saw off Wigan 2-0 thanks to Antolin Alcaraz's own goal and a close-range strike by Nicklas Bendtner. The Gunners are now heavy favorites to win the competition and end a trophy drought that goes back to 2005.

The other two quarterfinals were to be be played on Wednesday, with Birmingham hosting fierce local rival Aston Villa and Ipswich — the only non-Premier League team left in the competition — at home to West Bromwich Albion.

West Ham is bottom of the Premier League but earned a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Wigan on Saturday and would have fancied its chances when it saw the teamsheets, with United making 10 changes to a starting side that routed Blackburn 7-1 at the weekend.

What the Hammers would not have counted on was two goals from Spector, a former United player who hadn't previously scored in six years in English soccer. He was also playing out of position in central midfield and hadn't appeared in the first team since August.

"It's been disappointing and frustrating, but I've just been working hard and hope for the best," Spector said of his season so far. "I'm not really sure (how he scored twice) — playing in a different position kind of helped, I was able to get forward a bit more."

Mourinho banned

NYON , Switzerland (AP) Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has been banned for one Champions League match for instructing players to get deliberate red cards so they could serve suspensions in a meaningless game.

Mourinho also was fined 40,000 euro ($51,990) Tuesday for instructing Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos to get sent off against Ajax last week.

Alonso and Ramos were fined 20,000 euro ($25,990). They already were suspended from Real's final first-round match, against Auxerre on Dec. 8, but are free to play in the second round.

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