The Claudio Bravo Cup! Zinchenko marvels at Man City goalkeeper's final intervention
- Manchester City had Claudio Bravo to thank as they hung on to claim a third consecutive EFL Cup with a final win against Aston Villa.
Oleksandr Zinchenko lobbied for the EFL Cup to be renamed in Claudio Bravo's honour after the goalkeeper's Wembley heroics sealed a 2-1 final victory for Manchester City over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri ensured Pep Guardiola's side lifted the trophy for a third consecutive season, although Villa hit back through Mbwana Samatta before half-time and pushed them to the limit during a breathless finale.
Dean Smith's Premier League strugglers came agonisingly close to forcing extra time in the 88th minute when Bjorn Engels rose above the City defence, only for Bravo to somehow push his header to safety via his right post.
A torrid debut season in English football in 2016-17 saw the Chile international lose his status as Guardiola's regular number one, but a cup that has now worn blue and white ribbons in five of the past seven campaigns has become a salvation of sorts for Bravo.
In 2017-18, he proved the difference during penalty shoot-out victories over Wolves and Leicester City on the road to Wembley and he was an ever present this time around after a ruptured Achilles left him as a spectator last term.
"It's unbelievable. Someone said in the dressing room they have to change the name of the cup – not the Carabao Cup, the Claudio Bravo Cup because he is the hero again," Zinchenko said.
"We are so happy for him."
EFL Cup glory in 2018-19 proved the catalyst for an unprecedented domestic treble – a feat that will not be repeated this season as Liverpool count down to the formality of becoming Premier League champions.
City's FA Cup defence resumes in the fifth round at Sheffield Wednesday this midweek, however, and they are bolstered by renewed belief in Europe after a statement 2-1 win at Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
"We are focused on the next game all the time. We can only speak about good season or bad season after the season," Zinchenko insisted.
"In the last couple of years we have been playing in 11 competitions and won eight titles [three EFL Cups, two Premier Leagues, two Community Shields and an FA Cup], which is incredible. We are still fighting for everything
"I hope [we can win three trophies again]. That is why we are working hard, everyone every day. I dream of it."
Guardiola again sprung surprises with his teamsheet at Wembley, making eight changes from his much-discussed starting XI at the Santiago Bernabeu, with heroes of the Madrid victory Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus having to make do with places on the bench.
"It's so difficult for the manager, I cannot imagine. It's not an easy decision in this case," Zinchenko added, having failed to make the matchday squad in the Spanish capital before being handed a cup final start at left-back.
"Everyone deserves to play and everyone has to understand this kind of situation. Nobody can be sad, we have to support each other. That is the key."Published 02 Mar 2020, 12:38 IST