Carabao Cup Final
Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 2
Manchester City won the Carabao Cup in a thrilling final against Aston Villa at Wembley. In retaining the trophy, City achieved the “three-peat,” – a third successive triumph in the competition, courtesy of Sergio Aguero and Rodri goals within thirty minutes of the first half. Villa, although largely outplayed were never out of the final and grabbed a lifeline when Mbwana Samatta’s diving header halved City’s lead before the break.
City celebrate their third consecutive Carabao Cup success with the win over Villa
City with their big match experience could have added to their tally in the second half, but Orjan Nyland managed to thwart Aguero, Raheem Sterling and substitute Bernardo Silva efforts. Villa had one late chance to level on 88 minutes, when Bjorn Engles’ header from a corner was saved by Claudio Bravo onto his post, as City held on to lift more silverware. Pep Guardiola has only lost one career cup final, the 2011 Spanish Cup when with Barcelona against Real Madrid. At Wembley on Sunday, City and Guardiola were victorious again.
Aguero put City in front in the first half
City who left Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Nicolas Otamendi among the substitutes were content to sit back in the early exchanges, and almost paid for it when within five minutes of the start, Anwar EL Ghazi headed just over. The West Midlanders had a lot of possession, but needed to do something with it as City gradually settled. John Stones headed over from Ilkay Gundogan’s cross as Guardiola’s side began to ask questions. They took the lead on 20 minutes following Phil Foden’s header back across from the left for Aguero to slot in from six yards out. Villa needed a quick response, and buoyed on by their sizable travelling fans from up the M40, El Ghazi was inspired to whip in a shot with little back lift, however Bravo held.
City were getting joy from the tactic of finding Foden deep on the right. From Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross, Foden went alone this time to strike wide of Nyland’s upright. City came again, and but for Engles’ block from Aguero’s piledriver they would have doubled their lead.
With their next move, City did just that.
Rodri doubled City’s lead at Wembley
On the half hour mark, Rodri headed in from Gundogan’s corner, with Villa’s defence missing in action. Replays showed that the corner should have been a Villa goal kick as it was Gundogan and not Jack Grealish with the last touch in the build up. City began to ease through the gears and could have been three goals to the good five minutes later, but Sterling’s shot was blocked by Tyrone Mings. Again it was the cross field ball from the left to Foden causing all the problems for Villa’s rear guard.
Five minutes before the break however, Villa were back in the match. Matt Targett’s high ball, caused confusion in City’s lines. El Ghazi was let in by an untimely Stones slip, but only had Samatta to aim for from the left. He picked him out with a precision cross for the Tanzania forward to head in powerfully and beat Bravo from ten yards out. The goal was met with Royal approval. Villa fan Prince William cheered on from the terraces.
Samatta halved City’s lead with this thundering header
2-1 down at the break, Villa needed to fire back after the re-start, but were being contained in their own half. Mings defensive header out fell to Foden who bounced his shot into the pitch but wide of Nyland’s upright. Things got a bit spicy when Sterling clashed with Frederic Guilbert. Guardiola watched on near the touchline in disbelief as his striker was shown a yellow card for his rash challenge.
Marvelous Nakamba was then shown a yellow card, maybe a bit unfortunately as he got the ball with a meaty challenge close to the half way line, but also a fair bit of Aguero with the follow through. Nyland remained the busier of the two keepers, he watched on in relief as one Aguero volley fizzed past his post from Bernardo Silva’s cross, and then blocked with his legs when City broke again saving from Bernardo.
Grealish was unable to inspire Villa at Wembley
Villa were being urged to have one last assault of City’s goal. Mings and Engels caused panic in the City defence from a late corner, and only Bravo’s save onto the woodwork from Engels header kept the scores from being level.
But City held on. They had done enough to ensure that the Carabao Cup would remain in their hands for another season.