Stoke City took a 2-0 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday to advance to the Capital One Cup semifinals.
The Premier League side made five changes to the starting XI, and it worked out well for manager Mark Hughes. Ibrahim Afellay gave Stoke the lead in the 30th minute, and Phil Bardsley made it 2-0 in the 75th minute. Sheffield Wednesday, 8th in the Championship, just didn’t have enough edge to challenge the top-tier side.
“I made the changes tonight not to disrespect the opposition but to give one or two of the lads who have done well for us an opportunity,” Hughes told stokecityfc.com after the win.
“Given the run we have been on and the amount of matches we have played I thought that the game presented me with an opportunity to freshen things up a little bit.
“We have a crucial period coming up with plenty of games over the Christmas and New Year period and it is vital not to burn anybody out at this time of the season.
“The players we brought in are all top players and they have proven themselves domestically and internationally too.
“It shows the strength of the group that we can make the amount of changes that we did and still be able to comfortably win a game against strong opposition.”
Hughes singled out Afellay, who he thought had his best game of the season.
“I thought he was outstanding tonight, and in my opinion produced his best display of the season for us,” Hughes said.
“He is clearly a really talented individual and you could see that given his performance, and the way that he took his goal this evening.”
Southampton will host Liverpool on Wednesday in the last Capital One Cup quarterfinal.