Manchester City have become the team to beat on the League Cup as they edged out Spurs in the final at Wembley. Aymeric Laporte’s late goal was enough to see off the challenge from the North London side and give City their fourth successive League Cup title.
It was a just reward for the blues, who dominated for most of the match and could have had more than a solitary goal, and without some last ditch defending and brilliant keeping from Hugo Lloris, the scoreline would undoubtedly have been higher.
After a miserable week, during which the blues made a feeble attempt to reach the FA Cup Final, before the explosive events of the ESL fiasco dominated the football world, City needed to make amends with the supporters, of which 2,000 were present at Wembley for the first time in over a year. Granted, a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in midweek, together with Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Leeds has put City on the brink of a third Premier League title in four years, but the League Cup has become the blues own competition, and they made sure they brought the trophy home to Manchester again.
Kevin de Bruyne, injured in the semi-final defeat at Wembley, returned to the side, while John Stones missed out on the final due to suspension after his red card at Villa, while Zack Steffen started in goal in place of Ederson.
Right form the start, City showed their intent and determination to retain the trophy, with Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling both going close before the ten minute mark. The blues continued to press Spurs without forcing Lloris into a save.
But the first moment of controversy came in the 25 minute and is one that Spurs fans will be particularly aggrieved about. Laporte brought down Luca Moura, but the referee ignored Spurs’ appeals to produce a yellow card. And a minute later, Foden thought he’d given City the lead. The youngster met de Bruyne’s cross and his shot seemed destined to nestle in the back of the net, only for a Spurs body to get in the way and deflect the ball onto the post.
Spurs were again appealing for a yellow card when Ruben Dias tackled Harry Kane, with the England skipper hitting the deck. The referee kept his cards in his pocket and it turned out to be a good decision as replays showed Dias got the ball. Riyad Mahrez then had Lloris at full stretch as a wicked left foot shot whistled past the post.
Laporte finally received a booking on the edge of half-time for another foul on Moura, as the blues somehow went in at half-time level with their opponents.
Spurs started the second half with a bit more attacking intent, with Giovani Lo Celso forcing Steffen into a smart save, the American keeper getting down well to keep out the shot, before City counter attacked with de Bruyne just failing to get a left foot shot away inside the area.
City continued to raid the Spurs defence, with Lloris denying Fernandinho and Mahrez as it looked like being another one of those days for the blues.
But with eight minutes remaining, City got the breakthrough. Sterling was brought down needlessly on the left and when de Bruyne floated the free kick over, it was only ever going to be Laporte, who Spurs feel should have by now been sent off, who got on the end of it, sending his header into the corner of the goal.
Rather than sitting back and protecting the lead, City continued forward and with time running out, the blues were just happy to keep the ball. Mahrez thought he’d scored the goal his performance deserved but Foden was offside in the build-up, but it didn’t matter as the referee blew for full time and City were crowned League Cup champions again.
Final Score: Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur