1st March, 2020
Goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri secured a third consecutive Carabao Cup final triumph for Manchester City on Sunday as Pep Guardiola’s team overcame Aston Villa by two goals to one in a pulsating contest at Wembley.
Aguero and Rodri both struck in the opening half-hour with City in dominant form but Mbwanna Samatta’s late first-half effort gave the Villans a shot in the arm and made for a compelling second half.
Claudio Bravo also had to make a stunning late save. He pushed Bjorn Engels’ 88th-minute header onto a post to ensure City maintained their lead.
However, with Phil Foden producing a dazzling display, City deservedly saw the job through to seal a hat-trick of League Cup wins following their triumphs in 2018 and 2019.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Manchester City came into the game on the high following their superb Champions League win at Real Madrid in midweek, but it was Villa who made the initial early running.
Dean Smith’s men carved out the game’s first opening, Anwar El Ghazi rising at the back post to send a powerful header just over.
However, with their possession-based approach City quickly warmed to the task and Sergio Aguero was inches off target with a deft back header from Ilkay Gundogan’s eighth-minute pinpoint cross.
And that patience paid dividends on 20 minutes as that Aguero made the all-important breakthrough.
Phil Foden was the architect, superbly heading back inside from Rodri’s teasing cross and master marksman Aguero needed no second invitation to bury the ball home from close range.
Within five minutes City almost struck again.
Foden, deployed wide on the right and a constant threat on the ball, latched onto a stunning 45-yard crossfield Oleks Zinchenko ball before cutting inside and despatching a drifting effort which slid just wide of the far post.
But on the half-hour, City’s growing dominance was rewarded once more as Rodri doubled their advantage.
It was an old school effort – a bullet header from Gundogan’s inviting corner – but a thing of beauty in itself!
With City looking irresistible, only a desperate block from Villa’s Tyrone Mings then kept out a goalbound Raheem Sterling drive but then, against the run of play, Villa narrowed the deficit on 41 minutes to get right back into the contest.
El Ghazi evaded defensive cover on the left flank before arrowing in an inviting cross which Mbwana Samatta powered home with a spectacular diving header.
City looked to reassert control after the break with Foden seeing a 52nd minute 15-yard half volley narrowly missed the target.
The introduction of Kevin De Bruyne approaching the hour only added extra vim and verve to City’s work.
But, with just a goal in it, the game remained on a knife-edge – especially with Villa’s aerial threat and physicality.
Manchester City almost had that crucial third on 74 minutes, Rodri again powering in a header from a De Bruyne but Villa keeper Orjan Nyland produced a superb save to keep the effort out.
Nyland then flapped at a De Bruyne effort before Aguero was a whisker away with another power drive.
Claudio Bravo then produced a late moment of magic, the City keeper pushing Bjorn Engels’ goalbound header onto the post in a nerve-shredding finale.
But City held firm to secure another deserved piece of silverware.