Aymeric Laporte was City’s hero, heading home from Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick in the 82nd minute to give Pep Guardiola’s side a thoroughly deserved victory, which sees us move level with Liverpool as the most successful side in the competition’s history.
With 8,000 supporters in attendance – the most at any game in England since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – Guardiola’s men rose to the occasion at Wembley Stadium, where the win was made all the sweeter by the sight of 2,000 City fans celebrating at full-time.
Whilst City had to wait to break the deadlock, on the balance of play the result was never in doubt and the most surprising aspect of the contest was that the defending champions had to wait until the final 10 minutes for a goal.
But for some heroic last ditch defending and several missed opportunities, Guardiola‘s side would have been out of sight at half-time.
Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden were both denied by goal saving blocks from Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld, with the former sticking a leg out to deny Sterling after good work down the left from Foden, who later saw his snapshot turned onto the post by the Belgian after De Bruyne’s cross fell kindly for him in the six-yard box.
Ryan Mason’s side provided a sterner test after the break, but it was not enough to turn the tide.
Giovani Lo Celso forced Zack Steffen into his only save shortly after the restart and, whilst they made life more difficult for City in attack, that solitary effort was as good as it got for the North London outfit.
City, however, continued to probe, with Fernandinho‘s header forcing a save from Lloris and Gundogan sending one of his own over the bar, whilst a weaving run and shot from Mahrez also had too much on it to trouble the Frenchman.
As the clock ticked down, the boys in blue could have been forgiven for thinking all this would come back to haunt them, but our patience was rewarded in emphatic style as Laporte towered above Moussa Sissoko and planted a header into the far corner to spark wild celebrations at the City end.
FAB THREE INSPIRE A FANTASTIC FOUR
Silverware aside, this was a performance which will have encouraged Guardiola ahead of the crucial Champions League semi-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
The French outfit will no doubt provide more of an attacking threat than Spurs managed, whose minimal impact in the final third was a stark contrast to City’s.
The Algerian was City’s biggest attacking threat and created countless opportunities with his pinpoint deliveries, whilst he went close on three occasions with menacing efforts of his own.
City’s No.7 has been in and of the side of late, but delivered a timely reminder of his qualities at Wembley, where he made a flying start.
Guardiola‘s men have performed better in front goal and the margin of victory could no doubt have been greater, but this was a fitting performance to write ourselves into the League Cup history books.
PEP GUARDIOLA – WELL DESERVED
“[It was] more than well deserved. We were out to play and played with an incredible level and quality. I am so delighted for the guys and have a thought for those who couldn’t play.
“Fernandinho and Sergio [Aguero], they are the players with the most cups and fourth time in a row is nice because we beat Arsenal and United away and Spurs to win it. It was more than deserved. It was a good night to share with our people, we are there.”
MAN OF THE MATCH – RIYAD MAHREZ
The architect of much of City’s best play and a constant thorn in the side of Sergio Reguilon, whom he tormented with his usual trickery.
Unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet.
This was Laporte’s eighth goal for City in all competitions, with all of them coming away from the Etihad Stadium.
WHAT IT MEANS
City become only the second team after the Liverpool to win the League Cup in four consecutive seasons, whilst Guardiola is the first manager to lift the trophy on four successive occasions.
The win also means Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are now the most decorated players in the competition’s history, with their six successes moving them one clear of Ian Rush and David Silva (both five).