| 5.3°C Belfast

Man City clinch third straight League Cup over battling Aston Villa

Aston Villa 1

Manchester City 2

Close

John Stones and Kyle Walker of Manchester City celebrate with The Carabao Cup trophy. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

John Stones and Kyle Walker of Manchester City celebrate with The Carabao Cup trophy. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

John Stones and Kyle Walker of Manchester City celebrate with The Carabao Cup trophy. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola hailed his “incredible” Manchester City players after they completed a hat-trick of Carabao Cup triumphs.

The 2018, 2019 and now 2020 winners withstood a spirited Aston Villa fightback to lift the trophy again at Wembley.

In a compelling final, in front of more than 82,000 fans, City raced into a two-goal lead.

Sergio Aguero and then Rodri looked to have given the overwhelming favourites a firm grip on the cup.

But Villa, 18-1 underdogs with some bookmakers going into the game, responded courageously.

Mbwana Samatta pulled one back late in the first half and, while they struggled to create clear cut chances, City could never relax.

Two minutes from the end they needed goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to push a header from defender Bjorn Engels on to the post to prevent extra time.

City, though, held out for a seventh League Cup triumph in their history, completing the now familiar walk up the Wembley steps to receive the cup, which was raised aloft by David Silva.

It was some consolation in a difficult season for Guardiola, on record a few weeks ago as saying he would scrap the competition.

Afterwards he said: "Three times in a row is a big success. It's the consistency, incredible.

"It was awesome. We struggled in the first minutes and the last ones. They had two clear chances in the first minutes but we played really well, especially in the second half.”

Guardiola praised the impact of Phil Foden, taking full advantage of his chance to shine on the big occasion with a man of the match display.

"The game was good. Phil was clinical. (It’s a) big success, our second title of the season with the Community Shield, it's so nice,” he added.

"We've won a lot … every game we play, we try to win it, every competition we try to win it, and three times in a row, being here and winning is great.”

City are just the second side to win three consecutive League Cup titles after Liverpool in the early 1980s.

Beaten Villa boss Dean Smith said: “It is disappointing - we came to a final and there is only one winner and one loser.

“We came here with a lot of belief. Although everybody had written us off - we were 18-1 to win it - there was a lot of belief in our dressing room to go and prove a lot of people wrong.

“I thought the performance was okay, the game plan was solid. Unfortunately you have a mountain to climb against a team like Manchester City, with the quality they have, when they go two goals up.”

Close

Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings appears dejected at the end of the Carabao Cup Final. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings appears dejected at the end of the Carabao Cup Final. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

PA

Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings appears dejected at the end of the Carabao Cup Final. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Amid a frenzied atmosphere, Villa started well and created the game’s first chance after three minutes.

Ahmed Elmohamady crossed and Anwar El Ghazi’s header from 12 yards flashed just over the target.

City, though, were quickly into their stride, switching the play so fluidly and stretching the Villa defence.

They took the lead in the 20th minute from a move of real style.

Raheem Sterling sucked in three players before playing it to Rodri, whose cross was perfectly weighted to the back post. There Phil Foden directed the ball into the path of Aguero, who headed in via a touch off defender Tyrone Mings.

The impressive Foden went close to making it 2-0, taking a pass from Oleksandr Zinchenko, running at full-back Matt Targett, but seeing his effort go just wide of the back post.

City did get their second in the 30th minute.

There was controversy as a corner was given, even though the final touch appeared to come off Ilkay Gundogan. From the corner, Gundogan’s delivery picked out Rodri, who escaped his marker to head in.

It looked ominous for Villa, but they pulled one back in the 41st minute.

A slip by John Stones allowed El Ghazi the chance to cross, and his delivery was met with a bullet header from Samatta.

After the break City went close when Gundogan’s free-kick was cleared to Foden, who caught it well but pulled his shot just wide.

In the 73rd minute a corner picked out Rodri, but his header was pushed wide by Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland.

Guardiola was able to call on the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva from the bench as the match progressed.

Nine minutes from the end Silva crossed to Aguero, who shot into the side netting.

But Villa almost forced extra time. Conor Hourihane’s corner picked out Engels, whose header was tipped on to the post.

ASTON VILLA: Nyland, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz, Nakamba, Elmohamady (Trezeguet, 69), Grealish, El Ghazi (Hourihane, 69), Samatta (Davis, 80)

Subs not used: Reina, Konsa, Taylor, Lansbury

MAN CITY: Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Zinchenko, Rodrigo, Gundogan (De Bruyne, 58), Foden, David Silva (Bernardo Silva, 77), Sterling, Aguero (G Jesus, 84)

Subs not used: Ederson, Mendy, Mahrez, Otamendi

Referee: Lee Mason

Belfast Telegraph