Capital One Cup FINAL: Caballero & Toure the heroes as Manchester City defeat Liverpool on penalties
Manchester City and Liverpool played out an exciting League Cup final, as Fernandinho gave City the lead with Coutinho equalizing in the 82nd minute to take the game to extra time. Mignolet went from zero to hero during the course of the game, but it was Willy Caballero who was the hero as City won 3-1 on penalties.
Liverpool XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lucas, Sakho, Moreno, Milner, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge
Manchester City XI: Caballero, Sagna, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy, Fernandinho, Fernando, Silva, Toure, Sterling, Aguero
‘God save the Queen’ rang out at Wembley before the game, but it was ‘Caballero save Manchester City’ right at the start, as the Argentine goalkeeper had to claim a dangerous low cross from Alberto Moreno as Liverpool attacked right from kickoff. Liverpool started full of verve and confidence, most exemplified by Coutinho’s outrageous no-look reverse pass to Clyne in the 6th minute.
The Liverpool fans, however, winced in agony in the 15th minute as Mamadou Sakho and Emre Can clashed as they both went for a header, with the Frenchman looking particularly groggy as the game was halted for the duo’s treatment. Liverpool nearly paid the price for keeping Sakho on, as the defender slipped as Aguero threatened on the edge of the box, but Mignolet’s excellent save turned the Argentine’s 23rd minute shot onto the post.
Jurgen Klopp attempted to explain matters to Sakho as he replaced him with Kolo Toure, but the Frenchman was understandably heartbroken at being substituted in a cup final, taking out his anger on a water bottle that he threw to the ground.
It was brother vs brother in the cup final as Kolo Toure came on and the elder of the Ivorian brother nearly made a decisive contribution as Coutinho’s free-kick from the left edge of the box narrowly evaded Toure’s head by inches. Moments later, Liverpool were appealing for a penalty as Moreno went down under a Fernandinho challenge, but the Brazilian’s tackle was clean, with the referee agreeing.
The ‘showpiece’ final was struggling as a spectacle, with the referee contributing by being particularly lenient, especially when Lucas clattered into Aguero late in the first half, but the make-shift Brazilian centre-back escaped censure. As the first half whistle blew, it brought to an end a poor first half, with the sides going into the break goalless.
The paucity of quality in the first half meant a goalleass game, but it was a howler of epic proportions that provided us with the game’s opener. Aguero sent an overlapping Fernandinho free down the right, and the Brazilian hammered the ball across goal, only for Simon Mignolet to let the ball squeeze in under him, thus gifting Manchester City the lead in the 49th minute.
James Milner went close after his darting run was found by Daniel Strurridge, but it was a former Liverpool product who came up with another howler in this error-strewn final. Yaya Toure’s pass sent David Silva bursting down the right wing, and the Spaniard laid the ball on a plate for an onrushing Raheem Sterling, but the 49 million man screwed his shot wide from two yards out.
Manuel Pellegrini reacted with disbelief at Sterling missing a sitter, and was left shaking his head with a similar sentiment as City were denied a penalty and a red card in the 61st minute. Sergio Aguero was found in space by Toure, and as the Argentine darted past his marker, Moreno who was the last man, stuck out his heel, tripping Aguero, but referee Michael Oliver waved play on.
Liverpool were dominating possession while not even managing to have a shot on target, and Klopp attempted to change things by bringing on Adam Lallana for Moreno in the 71st minute, with Milner switching to left-back. However, it was City who still continued to threaten as Aguero made Lucas look foolish on the right wing and sent in a cross for Sterling, but the Englsihman missed again, much to Pellegrini’s frustration.
Manchester City were made to regret Sterling’s errors as Philippe Coutinho scored the equalizer for Liverpool in the 82nd minute. Daniel Sturridge was found on the right edge of the penalty box, but unselfishly opted to send in a low cross, but Adam Lallana’s shot hit the post and rebounded into Coutinho’s path, and the Brazilian kept his composure to slot the ball into the net with Caballero stranded, thus sending the Liverpool fans wild.
Manchester City nearly deflated Liverpool’s joy moments later, as a cross from the right was diverted goalwards by Fernando from close range, but Mignolet made a brilliant save to atone for his error. The Belgian continued his redemption from a corner in the 88th minute, as Yaya Toure’s downward header deflected off a defender and was left bouncing a yard out, but Mignolet bravely put his body on the line to keep the score tied, as the referee blew the full time whistle, which meant the final went into extra time.