Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola’s side win Carabao Cup for third year in a row

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First-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri were enough to secure the result for Pep Guardiola’s side, who made it three consecutive trophies in this competition.

Mbwana Samatta had given the current Premier League strugglers a route back into the contest when his header found the net just before the half-time whistle.

Villa pushed late on to try and find the equaliser but it wasn’t to be as City added to their increasingly busy trophy cabinet.

They may have been big outsiders heading into the game but Villa looked the more threatening of the two sides in the opening ten minutes. Anwar El Ghazi directed a header narrowly over the crossbar while Jack Grealish demonstrated the skill which is likely to see him involved in England’s Euro 2020 squad.

The holders started to settle though and it wasn’t long before the familiar sight of City camped in the opposition half started to appear. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Kyle Walker going from full-backs to wingers, allowing David Silva and Phil Foden the space to create in the middle.

City struck with 19 minutes on the clock. Rodri’s dinked pass over the top found Foden who had made a driving run into the box. The young midfielder’s first time header fell into the path of Aguero and his strike from close range took a deflection off Tyrone Mings and into the Villa net.

The underdogs had put up a resilient fight but City’s quality shone through in a goal which demonstrated why Wembley has become the Etihad Stadium South in the modern era.

Guardiola’s side only had to wait another ten minutes for their second. A corner swung in by Ilkay Gundogan found the head of Rodri, who had risen high above Frederic Guilbert, and the midfielder planted the ball into the net from close range.

It came in controversial circumstances though. Mings led the Villa protests as they claimed that the original decision should have been a goal-kick. Replays showed that the ball had struck Gundogan last and not the sliding Grealish. Dean Smith protested to the fourth official afterwards but little could be done to change the outcome.

The buzzing pre-match atmosphere in the west side of Wembley had turned to nerves, but as half-time approached, the Villa faithful were back on their feet.

City’s dominance had been broken as El Ghazi latched onto a lofted pass down the left. His cross was inch-perfect for the oncoming Samatta and his header from near the penalty spot flew past a helpless Bravo and into the bottom corner.

All eyes were on John Stones in the immediate aftermath. The City defender lost his footing which saw El Ghazi get the ball and drive forward. An easily avoidable goal had allowed their opponents a route back into a game they had controlled for the previous 30 minutes.

The second-half started without the intensity of the opening 15 minutes of the contest. Foden continued to shine on the right side for City and he came within inches of restoring their two-goal advantage as his half-volley whistled past the post.

Kevin De Bruyne was introduced from the bench by Guardiola as the defending champions looked for another. His impact was almost instant, Mings had to be alert to deny the Belgian’s driven cross towards the six-yard box from reaching the dangerous Aguero.

Tempers boiled over as the game entered the last 20 minutes. Marvelous Nakamba’s lunge on Aguero left the Argentinian striker on the floor, Nakamba was shown a yellow by Lee Mason and the two sets of players clashed over the incident.

Villa were pushing but failed to provide the significant threat in the final third. The trio of Fernandinho, Stones and Bravo comfortable in playing passes to each other under pressure from their opponents.

With the game becoming more neutral, Orjan Nyland had to be alert to deny Rodri grabbing his second and City’s third of the afternoon. In similar fashion to his first, the midfielder connected with a corner and his powerful header was pushed wide by the Villa goalkeeper.

With 87 minutes on the clock, Bravo and the post combined to deny Villa their equaliser. Bjorn Engels rose highest out of a group of players looking to get on the end of a corner and powered a header towards goal. The City pushed the ball onto the post and Stones smashed the ball clear.

Villa’s quest for a second opened up the contest in the closing exchanges. Bravo saved City at one end and Nyland saved his side at the other when he got down to block Bernardo Silva’s powerful drive towards goal in the 90th minute.

The last minutes of the game saw a Villa onslaught but the City defence stood strong and kept out the barrage of balls into the box.

The full-time whistle saw scenes of joy for those on the blue side of Wembley. The Villa fans showed their appreciation for the efforts of their side, but it was Manchester City who successfully defended their title for a third season in a row.

Opta facts

  • Man City are just the second side to win three consecutive League Cup titles after Liverpool between 1980-81 and 1983-84 (4 in a row). Indeed, only Liverpool (8) have won the competition more times than Man City (7).
  • Only Arsenal (6) have finished runners-up more often in League Cup history than Aston Villa (4 – level with Liverpool, Man Utd, Spurs).
  • Man City manager Pep Guardiola has now won the League Cup on three occasions (2018, 2019, 2020) – only Alex Ferguson (4), Brian Clough (4) and Jose Mourinho (4) have won the competition more often amongst managers.
  • Man City boss Pep Guardiola has won 21 of his previous 25 finals as a top-flight manager, including all six with City (2 Community Shields, 3 League Cups, 1 FA Cup).
  • Aston Villa have scored 20 League Cup goals this season, the last side to net 20+ in a single EFL Cup campaign were Manchester City in 2013-14 (22).
  • Man City’s Sergio Agüero has scored 10 goals in his last six starts against Aston Villa, while the Argentine has been directly involved in eight goals in 10 appearances at Wembley.
  • Since his League Cup debut in November 2011, Man City’s Sergio Aguero has scored more goals in the competition than any other player (11).
  • Aston Villa’s Mbwana Samatta became the fifth different African player to score in a League Cup final, after Didier Drogba (four), Joseph-Désiré Job, Obafemi Martins and Yaya Touré.
  • Rodri has scored two goals in his last four games for Man City, the same total as he registered in his other 33 games for the club this season.
  • Manchester City’s Phil Foden has been directly involved in nine goals in his 10 starts in all competitions this season (2 goals, 7 assists).

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