Liverpool - 1
Manchester City - 1
(After extra-time. City win 3-1 on penalties)
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero was the hero yesterday as Manchester City won their fourth League Cup title in a penalty shoot-out victory over Liverpool at Wembley.
In a tale of contrasting fortunes for the men between the posts the Argentine, back-up to Joe Hart at the club, saved three spot-kicks while opposite number Simon Mignolet did not manage one as City won the shoot-out 3-1 after the match finished 1-1.
While all the focus had been on the attacking options both sides had at their disposal, the match ended up being decided by the goalkeepers.
Mignolet’s match was something of a roller-coaster, ending on a low, as his error in allowing Fernandinho’s shot under his body handed City the lead which was only cancelled out by Philippe Coutinho’s 83rd-minute strike.
The Belgium international also made a number of excellent saves but having handed the initiative to City it was a long way back for Liverpool and their exertions began to tell in extra time.
Both managers made big calls in their team selections: Jurgen Klopp kept faith with midfielder Lucas Leiva – who missed the 2012 League Cup triumph with injury – at centre-back in an unchanged side, while Manuel Pellegrini continued with his policy of playing Caballero in cup competitions.
The first real chance fell to Sergio Aguero midway through the first half when he cut inside Lucas and Mamadou Sakho, still struggling after a clash of heads with Emre Can, only for Mignolet to tip his shot on to a post.
Sakho, replaced by Kolo Toure, had to be virtually ordered off the pitch by Klopp after being determined to continue against medical advice and the France international’s frustration boiled over as he hurled a water bottle towards the bench and then hid his head under a coat on the bench.
The breakthrough came four minutes into the second half when Fernandinho’s narrow-angle shot from the right of the penalty area, although low and hard, went under the body of the diving Mignolet.
The game opened up as James Milner shot wide and Raheem Sterling, who left Anfield acrimoniously in the summer in a £49million deal, somehow missed the target from eight yards. City were also furious with referee Michael Oliver after he decided Alberto Moreno did not bring down Aguero in the area with a trailing leg.
With 20 minutes to go Klopp gambled by taking off left-back Moreno, with Milner asked to fill in, and bringing on Adam Lallana for his first game in three weeks and it paid off as the England midfielder hit the post from Sturridge’s cross and Coutinho drilled home the rebound in the 83rd minute.
In extra time Mignolet went some way to redeeming himself by brilliantly denying Aguero in a one-on-one, Caballero repelled substitute Divock Origi’s close-range header, while Aguero volleyed over Milner’s attempted nod back to his goalkeeper.
Penalties followed with Caballero coming out on top, with his save from Lucas the best of his three. Lallana and Coutinho were also denied before wild scenes of celebration when Yaya Toure converted the winning kick.
Referee: M Oliver