Capital One Cup Final – Match Review
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on February 28, 2016
A cup final of a competition that is often underestimated in terms of it’s importance, didn’t fail to impress, as Manchester City defeated Liverpool in the most dramatic of circumstances thanks to the heroics of none other than Willy Caballero.
The scenes immediately after the penalty shoot-out epitomised how much the League Cup trophy meant to everyone at Manchester City and their travelling supporters. The swarms of photographers, the sheer euphoria amongst the travelling Blues and most notably, the emotion etched across 34 year old Willy Caballero’s face made this particular triumph, one to remember when Manuel Pellegrini’s departure date arrives at the end of the season.
It’s hard not to start anywhere else but the classic penalty shoot-out that followed a tough 120 minutes for all involved on and off the field. And it all started so well for Liverpool with Emre Can delightfully chipping the ball past a diving Caballero – a penalty that, given the situation, was something to admire. But this was to be the only time that Liverpool were able to beat Caballero. Three outstanding saves followed as the Argentine denied penalties from Lucas, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. Despite City’s first penalty striking the post courtesy of a dragged effort from Fernandinho, sheer calmness and accuracy from Navas and Agüero followed before Yaya Touré neatly buried the ball into the bottom corner, winning City’s first penalty shoot-out since the 2008/09 campaign.
In normal time, City took the lead through the excellent and always lively Fernandinho, as he squeezed the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from a tight angle. Replays later showed that it was in fact the Belgian shot stopper who was to blame for the conceding of the first goal of the match, as he allowed, what was a relatively simple shot to save, to pass under his body and into the far corner of the goal. City pushed on but a lack of clinical finishing in front of goal from ex-Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and several forgotten smart saves from Mignolet, denied City from running away with the game.
But it wouldn’t be a cup final without a controversial decision from a referee. A dangling and tired leg from defender Alberto Moreno brought Agüero down on the counter-attack inside the penalty area. What seemed to be a stone wall penalty was ignored by Michael Oliver who surprisingly waved on play, much to the frustration of Yaya Touré and the majority of City players and fans who made their opinions clear. The decision later proved to be costly, as Liverpool equalised through Coutinho. Several moments of luck including a rebound off the post allowed the ball to fall to a waiting Brazilian who calmly slotted the ball past Caballero. Liverpool’s first shot on target, but it proved to be crucial as the two sides went on to battle even harder through a period of extra-time.
Following several good chances from Liverpool in the second period of extra-time, the pain of a penalty shoot-out might have been prevented if chances for Sergio Agüero, Fernando and Wilfried Bony had been converted late on. Instead, it was time for Willy Caballero’s moment of of brilliance to occur; winning City their second League Cup trophy in 3 years – cue wild celebrations amongst everyone involved with Manchester City. A rollercoaster of emotions look to be put aside quickly as Manuel Pellegrini, and his professional and forever calm attitude, will now be looking ahead to a tough midweek fixture against none other than Liverpool at Anfield – the perfect opportunity for the Reds to obtain immediate revenge.