Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland : Second half comeback leads City to League Cup triumph
Manchester City claimed their first trophy in the Pellegrini era in spirited and adept fashion. A Yaya Toure belter to cancel out Fabio Borini's early sublime opener, swiftly followed by Nasri's wonderful strike with Navas scoring late on, ensured the Etihad outfit would not have to endure the same heartache as they did last May, succumbing to Ben Watson's late header in the FA Cup Final.
It was cruel on Sunderland and their ardent travelling support. Having so excellently carried out Gus Poyet's instructions in the first-half, pressing tirelessly and causing City problems, their fatigued legs could not withstand the quality City offered in the second period, eventually paying dividends.
The Black Cats were impeccable during the opening forty-five, closing their star-studded opponents and denying them time and space to manoeuvre and plot an attacking move. Vito Mannone, on his birthday, superbly parried Sergio Aguero's forceful shot 75 seconds before his side sprung an attack at the other end. Included in the starting eleven to trouble Martin Demichelis with his intelligent runs, he did just that as he sprinted in between Kompany and his Argentine defensive partner, got the better of the Belgium captain and finished emphatically, stroking the ball with the outside of his foot past the despairing Costel Pantilimon. The Mackems had something to hold on to as they dared to dream.
Proving to be a pivotal point in the game come the consummation of the final, Kompany heroically thwarted Borini's effort on goal with a sliding last-ditch challenge. With a hint of offside, the Italian was clean on goal, but credit to Kompany. Instead of beseeching the officials and waving for the halting of the game, as many defenders do nowadays, the City skipper raced back to save his side from falling two behind.
Sunderland were the more cohesive and motivated unit as their loud faithful implored then to end their 41 year-wait for silverware, with their memorable 1973 FA Cup triumph over Don Revie's Leeds United their last. But the staggering amount of cash invested into the club by Sheikh Mansour, who was present at Wembley Stadium, came to tell as City's indisputable quality trundled to the fore after the interval.
It is worth wondering what Manuel Pellegrini had said to his players at half-time, with the Chilean desperate for has first trophy since moving to Europe in 2004, after his players emerged onto the Wembley pitch seemingly revitalized as they staged a commendable comeback with scintillating goals aplenty.
It had been an arduous 55 minutes for Manchester City, but Yaya Toure's unbelievable strike confirmed the credibility of the cliché goals change games. The Ivorian, in what seemed to be a routine probing exercise, unexpectedly ambled up to the ball and somehow generated enough power, curve and bend for the final ball to nestle into the top corner. It turned out to be a watershed moment for what was to follow.
A minute later, Samir Nasri completed City's spirited comeback as the Frenchman curled the ball, with the outside of his foot, into the bottom left corner, much to the delight of the City fans submerged around the goalmouth. After the Sunderland fans had, in an ecstatic manner, performed City's famous Poznan celebratory dance earlier in the encounter, it was now the turn of its rightful ownet as their side moved towards the first taste of silverware this season.
Jesus Navas, who had replaced Sergio Aguero prematurely in the second period, beat Mannone at his near hand post to force the League Cup beyond Sunderland and into the grateful arms of captain Kompany, who lead the post-match celebrations. A sight the club hope will become all too familiar in the years to come.
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