Manchester City won the Carabao Cup for a fourth year in a row after Aymeric Laporte steered them to a 1-0 win over Tottenham in front of 8,000 fans at Wembley.
In a game dominated by City from first to last – their Expected Goals was 3.63 to Tottenham’s 0.06 – the only real surprise was that it took until the 82nd minute for them to get the winner, which took City to a joint-record eighth win in this competition alongside Liverpool – while they also became the second side after the Reds to win this competition for the fourth time in a row.
It was also the first leg secured by Pep Guardiola’s side of a potential treble this season, with the Premier League looking almost sewn up and a Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain to come.
For Spurs – being led by 29-year-old Ryan Mason in just his second game in charge – the 13-year wait for a trophy will go on. It is now a sixth-straight loss at Wembley for them in neutral games.
How City became Carabao Cup winners again
The first half was just wave after wave of City attack as they spurned countless chances to take the lead. Raheem Sterling saw a close-range effort blocked by Eric Dier, Phil Foden saw a shot deflected off Toby Alderweireld and onto the post, while Riyad Mahrez curled one just wide. In total City had 29 touches in Spurs’ box in the first 45 minutes, while Spurs had just one in City’s.
Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne were both deemed fit enough to start by their respective managers, while Pep Guardiola continued with Zack Steffen in goal.
The only real bright spot of the first half for Tottenham – other than somehow managing not to concede – was the threat that Lucas Moura posed to Laporte. The City defender twice hauled down the Brazilian as he beat him on the counter-attack, and was perhaps lucky only to be booked for the second one.
Spurs did come out for the second half much more on the front foot and finally tested Zack Steffen in the City goal, as he was forced to tip a Giovani Lo Celso effort from the edge of the box wide of the post.
City grew again as the half went on, though, and Spurs had Hugo Lloris to thank for keeping them on level terms after 74 minutes when he dived low to his right to keep out a bending Mahrez attempt.
Finally, the breakthrough was found with eight minutes to go, as Kevin De Bruyne delivered a perfect free-kick to the far post, where Laporte arrived to head home and send 4,000 City fans into raptures.
Analysis: A gulf in class
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“City have got the greatest manager, they really have. He’s built a new team inside 12 months. They are so dominant, and their football is wonderful.
“Pep Guardiola’s cup final record is absolutely sensational. They scored one but if it was three or four, I don’t think Tottenham could have complained.”
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:
“There was a huge gulf in class. They were by far the better side. They were a joy to watch. Guardiola is a genius. They were so superior to Tottenham in every department. Phil Foden is going to be the future for so long of this club.”
What the managers said…
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola: “It’s much better, much better [with fans]. We play to score, that’s what’s important. Today we’re incredible. Happy to win the first title, In the past 33 games we won 30, that’s incredible. We play with incredible personality, from the fit minute, to try to win the game. In general we play a really good final.
“We don’t have time to work [on set-pieces]. With this schedule, we don’t have time to do anything. Just the principles, it’s our fifth season together so we know what to do. Just to recover, try to be a unit. It’s tough, but the schedule is this way.
“Now we rest and prepare for the semi-final against PSG. And then after that we are two games away from winning the most important title – the Premier League.”
Tottenham’s Ryan Mason: “I thought we were 100 per cent committed. They are a very good side. I thought we rode our luck at times, disappointed to concede from a set piece, but the guys gave absolutely everything. They believed, they left everything on the pitch. Very disappointed with the result, obviously, but can’t fault the effort.
“I think City are probably four or five years ahead of us, they’ve had a manager for such a long time, worked a certain way for such a long time. Going forward, my idea and I’m sure everyone’s idea of Tottenham is to be brave and try and dominate games like they do. It’s a process, it takes time, I think the fact the players tried and believed. It says a lot, it makes me believe they want to work this way.
“But it’s normal, we’ve worked this way for the best part of a week, had two day to prepare for this game, and played against the best team in the country. Yes we rode our luck at times, but I thought as the game went on they were creating less. It’s difficult to take but I’m proud of the boys.”
Man of the Match: Riyad Mahrez
He may not have provided the match-winning moment, but Mahrez was a constant menace down the right for City, giving Sergio Reguilon a torrid afternoon. With a little bit more of the rub of the green, the Algerian could easily have had two or three goals in the final.
- Manchester City secured their eighth League Cup title, the joint-most alongside Liverpool. Indeed, they are just the second team to win the competition in four consecutive campaigns (Liverpool, 1981-1984).
- Only Arsenal (6) have lost more League Cup finals than Tottenham Hotspur (5), with Spurs now losing each of their last three finals in the competition (also 2008-09 vs Man Utd and 2014-15 vs Chelsea).
- Since the turn of the century, Tottenham have ended as runners-up in five of their six finals across all competitions, failing to score in each of their last four finals (League Cup x3, Champions League).
- Manchester City have won 19 of their 25 League Cup matches under Pep Guardiola (D4 L2); with only Roy Evans (78.3 per cent) posting a higher win percentage amongst managers in League Cup history than the Spaniard (76 per cent).
Manchester City have just three days until they travel to Paris to face PSG in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night. Tottenham have a week off until they face Sheffield United next Sunday, May 2, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm ahead of a 7.15pm kick-off.
Manchester City will now turn their focus to the Premier League and Champions League.
Manchester United’s draw at Leeds means City are 10 points clear in the top flight and need just six points (effectively five based on their vastly-superior goal difference) to reclaim their crown from Liverpool.
If Guardiola’s side beat Crystal Palace on May 1, victory at home to Chelsea on May 8 – live on Sky Sports – would secure the title.
Having ended their Champions League quarter-final hoodoo under Guardiola, City are also gearing up for a big semi-final clash against Paris Saint-Germain, with the semi-final first leg set for April 28 and the decider on May 4.
Win that tie and they will face Real Madrid or Chelsea at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on May 29.