Amusingly called “The Worthless Cup” in recent seasons, sponsors Worthington will appreciate the League Cup competition’s new moniker, “The Worthy Cup”.

England’s second cup competition has long been a poor relation to the more illustrious FA Cup, but the manner in which this season’s finalists have approached each game – with all guns blazing – has restored its importance in the public eye.

Yesterday Manchester United joined Liverpool with a place in the final, beating Blackburn Rovers 3-1 away, 4-2 on aggregate.

In the past Manchester United have treated the competition as little more than a run-out for the reserves. Not so this season. Last night the big names were all there: Beckham; Giggs; Van Nistlerooy; Veron; Scholes. The latter it was who capped yet another man-of -the -match performance with two goals, making it seven in his last six games. T

here is no one better at running from deep to pick up loose balls and crosses in the danger area. He did it again last night, his first goal a second attempt from Beckham’s cross which he thrashed into the far corner.

That cancelled out Andy Cole’s opener against his former club. His second owed much to Gary Neville’s marauding run down the right, where he left his marker for dead and cut the ball back for Scholes to turn it in.

A second half penalty from Van Nistlerooy settled the tie. Liverpool had beaten Sheffield United 2-0 the night before (3-2 agg.) to earn a visit to Cardiff.

In the night’s Premiership action, West Ham’s slump continued despite the presence of new signings Lee Bowyer and Les Ferdinand. They were beaten 4-2 at Charlton and remain bottom, with an unwanted place in the first division now looming.

Newcastle United consolidated their position in third place with a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, who are only two points off the drop zone.

Young England hopeful Jermaine Jenas scored his third goal in his last four games to win a bruising, disjointed game. The Magpies are now only two points off second-placed Man Utd.