Manchester City retained the League Cup, beating Chelsea 4-3 on penalties after the Wembley showpiece ended in a goalless stalemate. The blues scored four of their five penalties to allow captain Vincent Kompany to lift the trophy for the fourth time of his City career, after previously lifting it following victories against Sunderland, Liverpool and Arsenal.
But the match ended in controversy for Chelsea as injured young goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted in order to bring on City’s penalty hero from 2016, Willy Caballero. The Argentine stayed on the bench, much to the relief of City’s travelling fans and the blues clinched their fourth League Cup in seven years.
But the match was a far cry from the 6-0 demolition job the blues inflicted on Chelsea two weeks ago, and at times the London club stifled the blues attack which threatened to turn the game into a bore fest. Sergio Aguero fired over the bar and Nicolas Otamendi had an opportunity with the only shot on target in the first half, but the teams went in goalless at half time.
City thought they had scored when Aguero turned and hit the ball beyond Kepa, however the linesman’s flag went up immediately for offside. VAR was consulted, which actually showed a trailing leg of the last Chelsea defender could have been interpreted as playing the Argentine striker onside, however the referee decided to uphold the linesman’s decision.
The blues then lost key defender Aymeric Laporte to a hamstring injury, and the defender was replaced by City legend and club captain Kompany. Chelsea came more into the match and Eden Hazard was starting to run a free role, and their best chance came when the Belgian set up N’golo Kante fired over the bar. Ederson became the hero for the blues when he tipped over Willian’s free-kick over the bar after Otamendi committed a needless foul. Minutes later, the blues survived another scare when Ruben Loftus-Cheek flicked the ball away from a City defender and played in Hazard, only for the latter to be called offside when it looked like he was on.
Extra time loomed and City would have to do it without Fernandinho, who was replaced by Danilo for the start of extra time, but the talking point of the match came in the final minutes of the 120. Sarri decided that Caballero would stand a better chance in goal against his former team-mates than his injured number one, but Kepa refused to come off, leaving the Chelsea manager fuming on the touchline as the match went to penalties.
And it was Ederson who set the blues on the road to victory by saving the first spot-kick from former City target Jorginho, diving to his left to keep it out. Ilkay Gundogan then stepped up to put City in front, before Cesar Azpilicueta levelled with his penalty.
Aguero was then very fortunate to put City back in front as his spot-kick squirmed under the body of Kepa into the goal before Emerson levelled again for the Londoners. It was then a hearts in the mouths moment for City fans as Kepa saved from Leroy Sane to leave the shoot-out all square again.
David Luiz then smashed his penalty against the post and when Bernardo Silva hit his penalty straight down the middle to put City back in front and on the brink of lifting the cup for the second successive season.
Eden Hazard calmly chipped over the diving Ederson, and it was left to winger Raheem Sterling to win the cup for the blues, which he did by hammering home his penalty off the crossbar to give the blues a 4-3 shootout win.
It was a real test of nerves for the City faithful, who were rather spoilt when they beat Arsenal in last year’s final, but they won’t care one jot as they make their way back to Manchester.
Final Score: Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City – Manchester City win 4-3 on penalties