Manchester City edged Tottenham Hotspur by a goal to nil at a sparsely populated Wembley Stadium to collect their fourth consecutive League Cup trophy on Sunday. Pep Guardiola's men thoroughly dominated the North Londoners, but had to wait till the 82nd minute to take the lead. City were left frustrated courtesy of a resolute Spurs defense until Aymeric Laporte headed home the winner eight minutes from time.
Tottenham Hotspur's hunt for a major trophy continues, but now it's time to focus on the Premier League for Harry Kane and co., as a spot in Europe is far from confirmed. Manchester City, on the other hand, will shift their focus to a meaty Champions League semi-final tie against Paris St. Germain.
Here are the five talking points from the game.
#5 Riyad Mahrez puts on a show at Wembley
Riyad Mahrez's Manchester City career hasn't been smooth sailing by any means. After enduring an underwhelming first season, the Algerian improved in his second year, but struggled with consistency. However, the former PFA Player of the Year award winner is back to his very best this season, and he showed his mesmerizing quality in front of the season's first set of fans in a stadium.
Mahrez toyed with the Spurs defenders with relative ease, keeping Sergio Reguilon guessing all game. He cut in superbly on a number of occasions and would have found himself on the scoresheet if not for a fantastic save from Hugo Lloris.
#4 Harry Kane starved of service in surprise comeback
Harry Kane, for the longest time, was believed to be in a physical condition incapable of suiting up for today's cup final. However, the English talisman passed a late fitness test and was thrown straight into the starting line-up by interim coach Ryan Mason. Unfortunately, it wasn't a dream comeback for Kane as he had a largely forgettable evening.
Tottenham had only 37% of the ball, attempting only two shots, only one of which was on target. The singular shot on target, too, came off of Giovanni Lo Celso's boot, which speaks volumes about Kane's involvement in the game. The 27-year-old tried his best to set up his teammates, but was a bystander for large parts of the game. Negating his influence on the match was crucial to City picking up the trophy.
Also Read: Arsenal targeting French playmaker - Reports
#3 Manchester City put FA Cup gloom behind them
The last time Manchester City stepped onto the Wembley pitch was just a week ago when they were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final. It was a disastrous performance from Pep Guardiola's men at the event, as they hardly gave their opponents a scare all game. However, they did not allow those memories to weigh on their minds at all on Sunday.
City were dominant from the first whistle to the last, passing the ball around with great aplomb and making some threatening runs off the ball. They worked hard to win the ball back every time they lost it, and for almost the entirety of the ninety minutes, they didn't put a foot wrong. Wembley is termed the 'Etihad of the South' by Manchester City fans, and today they were proven right again.
#2 Was it correct to let go of Mourinho right before the final?
When Tottenham Hotspur announced that manager Jose Mourinho had been relieved of his duties only a few days before the Carabao Cup Final, the news was greeted with significant doubt by football fans around the globe.
Jose Mourinho didn't have the greatest of spells with Tottenham by any means, but there is no doubting that he is more adept at handling big games than someone like Ryan Mason.
It would've been a huge ask from even a manager of Mourinho's caliber to defeat Pep Guardiola in a competition that he has dominated ruthlessly for a long time. That said, given how Tottenham approached this game, one must wonder if Mourinho would've come up with better ideas to hurt City on the counter. Spurs were absolutely toothless in attack, and never looked like scoring. It couldn't have been any worse with Mourinho in-charge.
#1 A treble (of sorts) still on the cards for Manchester City
Now that Manchester City have picked up their first piece of silverware this season, they'll be raring to do more. They already have one hand on the Premier League trophy - with a 10 point lead over second-placed Manchester United. However, it is the Champions League that they have pined for the longest.
Now, with no FA Cup to worry about and the other two competitions handled, they can focus fully on Paris St. Germain in the Champions League. However, it also leaves Pep Guardiola with perhaps too much time to think about his team's European endeavors.
The Spaniard is infamous for chalking up unnecessarily complex gameplans ahead of crunch Champions League ties, and City fans will hope that Pep can keep things simple this time around! Only time will tell...