Final, 3-1 Manchester City: It’s all over. Manchester City has won the Capital One Cup.
Manchester City’s magicians overturned Sunderland’s lead with three goals in the second half. Two of them were of the highest quality. Toure’s goal seemed to sap the focus and determination that carried Sunderland to the early lead. Then, Nasri’s strike made the outcome inevitable.
Manchester City’s improved performance in the second half is a testament to its quality and resilience. Pellegrini’s group raised its game when necessary and now claim the reward for doing so.
Sunderland gave a good account of itself for much of the game, but the Black Cats showed a mental frailty after Toure’s goal which led to their undoing just 59 seconds later. They were ultimately unable to battle back and score a second goal.
Pellegrini’s team and Manchester City fans will celebrate this triumph — it’s the club’s first League Cup victory since 1976. But it is merely a stop on the road for this ambitious group. Manchester City will look to prolong its Champions League dream when it faces Barcelona in a couple of weeks before resetting its sights on added glory on the domestic front, namely the FA Cup and Premier League.
Before we go, we’ve got to ask this question:
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90th minute, 3-1 Manchester City: Navas doubles Manchester City’s lead and seals the victory.
Alonso lost the ball in the Manchester City third of the field, and Toure launched the counter-attack. He dribbled over 50 yards, as two Sunderland defenders were left to stop four attackers, and laid it to Navas on his right.
The Spanish winger confidently beat Mannone with a low shot.
87th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Negredo comes on for Dzeko, who walks off the field to a standing ovation.
That reception might not have been the case were it not for Nasri and Toure, as Dzeko made little impact on the game.
84th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Kompany wanted to score Manchester City’s third and seal the result.
The defender missed with a volley in the 80th minute. He then headed Nasri’s corner kick in the 84th, but it went just a few inches high of the goal.
75th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Sunderland is showing more ambition going forward, as it searches for the tying goal.
The Black Cats have dominated possesion over the last few minutes, but they haven’t been able to translate that into clear-cut chances.
Poyet has made his third and final substitution, bringing Giaccherini is on for Cattermole.
Meanwhile, Pellegrini has replaced Silva with Garcia.
64th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: It’s hard to overstate the quality of Manchester City’s second-half goals. This is an apt description.
City have come up with two of the goals of the season in the space of a minute!—
Stuart Brennan (@StuBrennanMEN) March 02, 2014
60th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Poyet makes a double substitution. Gardner and Fletcher have come on for Johnson and Larsson. It remains to be seen if they can reverse Manchester City’s unrelenting tide.
58th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Aguero’s day is over, as Navas comes on as a substitute in his place.
56th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Moments after Toure tied the game, Nasri gives his team the lead with a wonder-goal of his own.
Kolarov’s cross from the left was deflected in the area. Nasri ran onto it and powered a swerving shot around a defender past Mannone.
See Nasri’s jaw-dropping goal below (via Reddit).
55th minute, 1-1: Toure scores a right-footed stunner to beat Mannone and tie the game.
The Manchester City talisman hit a first-time shot from around 35 yards out, which curled and floated its way into the top corner. Mannone had no chance to save it.
Check it out below (via Bleacher report):
50th minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Manchester City creates the first scoring chance of the second half, as Silva’s shot from just outside the area forces Manonne to make the save.
Halftime, 1-0 Sunderland: It’s halftime at Wembley Stadium, and Sunderland is in front.
Borini capitalized on Kompany’s mistake and gave his team the lead with a well-taken, outside-of-the-foot finish. Borini’s goal was merely one of many bright spots for Sunderland.
Poyet’s men ceded possession for large periods, choosing to drop deep and defend in numbers. It has proved itself to be an effective strategy, as it has blunted Manchester City’s much-vaunted attack. Sunderland’s fans are also lifting their team with noise and energy.
Manchester City’s best chances have come from Aguero, Nasri or the occasional goal-mouth scramble, but the favorites only threatened Sunderland’s goal a few times. Manchester City’s high-flying attack hasn’t lived up to its billing so far. Pellegrini may look to push Nasri and Silva into the wide areas in second half in order to stretch Sunderland’s back line and open up some space in the final third. He may opt to insert Navas, who provides pace, width and an accurate delivery from those outside channels.
Manchester City Kompany is arguably the top defender playing in England but he has been beaten once and looked vulnerable on another occasion. While Kompany’s attack-minded teammates will push forward in the second half, he must win his duels and raise his overall performance. If Sunderland scores that second goal, it’s reasonable to think the Capital One Cup will escape Manchester City’s grasp.
38th minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Borini could have doubled his tally and Sunderland’s lead were it not for Kompany.
The Italian striker beat the offside trap, raced forward in another breakaway, but Kompany broke up the play as Borini was setting up to shoot.
37th minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Colback floors Toure with a hard, but fair, tackle.
Colback’s tackle is indicative of the Sunderland’s focused aggression, which has seen it race to the early lead.
33rd minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Manchester City has begun to assert itself as the first half heads toward its conclusion.
Bardsley and Borini had to make last-minute interventions in the Sunderland area to keep the score as is.
27th minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Aguero breaks forward down the right, finds Nasri with a cross, but the French midfielder can only stab a weak shot at Mannone.
After an energetic start, the game is settling into rhythm. Manchester City is comfortable in possession, but the compact Sunderland defense is looks equally assured.
Borini’s goal seems to have given the Black Cats that extra bit of belief, which could take them to the top of the podium.
18th minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Sunderland fans have been euphoric since Borini’s goal.
Sunderland fans copying Manchester City's "Poznan" celebrations. Spirits rather high at the moment inside Wembley.—
Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) March 02, 2014
10th minute, 1-0 Sunderland: Borini has scores the opening goal, and Sunderland takes a shock lead.
Sunderland caught Manchester City on the counter-attack. Fernandinho lost the ball in the midfield, and Johnson played it forward to Borini after a quick exchange.
Kompany was tracking the Italian striker but his challenge was weak, allowing the Borini to get on his inside and slot his shot past Pantilimon into the far side of the goal.
Check it out below (via SB Nation).
Ninth minute, 0-0: Aguero takes a powerful shot from around 20 yards out, but Mannone dives to his right and bats it away.
Sixth minute, 0-0: As predicted, Manchester City has been the better team in the early goings.
City has controlled much of the play and pinned Sunderland back in its own third for much of the first few minutes, although it hasn’t seriously threatened Mannone’s goal.
Pregame: Here are the lineups.
Capital One Cup (@CapitalOne_Cup) March 02, 2014
Costel Pantilimon, goalkeeper
Pablo Zabaleta, right back
Vincent Kompany, center back
Martin Demichelis, center back
Aleksandar Kolarov, left back
Samir Nasri, midfielder
Yaya Toure, midfielder
David Silva, midfielder
Sergio Aguero, forward
Edin Dzeko, striker
Joe Hart, goalkeeper
Joleon Lescott, defender
Gael Clichy, defender
James Milner, midfielder
Javi Garcia, midfielder
Jesus Navas, midfielder
Alvaro Negredo, forward
Vito Mannone, goalkeeper
Phil Bardsley, right back
Wes Brown, center back
John O’Shea, center back
Marcos Alonso, left back
Sung-Yong Ki, midfielder
Sebastian Larsson, midfielder
Lee Cattermole, midfielder
Jack Colback, midfielder
Adam Johnson, midfielder
Fabio Borini, striker
Oscar Ustari, goalkeeper
Santiago Vergini, defender
Ondrej Celustka, defender
Craig Gardner, midfielder
Emanuele Giaccherini, midfielder
Ignacio Scocco, striker
Steven Fletcher, striker
8:30 a.m. ET: Manchester City and Sunderland face for the right to lift the Capital One Cup into the London air and claim the first major trophy of English soccer’s 2013-14 season.
While Manchester City is the consensus favorite, Manuel Pellegrini’s players will be keen to avoid an upset. After all, this Manchester City team is largely made up of the same players who suffered a shock defeat to Wigan in last season’s FA Cup final.
But a lot has changed since then. First-year manager Pellegerini has managed to sweep last season’s negativity out of the Manchester City camp. The Chilean has set his team’s sights on an unprecedented haul of four major trophies this season. This is step one.
The return of star striker Sergio Aguero will boost Manchester City’s chances of winning the Capital One Cup (nominally the Football League Cup) for the third time in its history. The Argentine missed his team’s last five games due to a hamstring injury. Aguero will start against Sunderland.
While Sunderland has struggled in the Premier League for much of this season, there is a ray of optimism coming out of the Stadium of Light. Sunderland has won seven of its last 11 games in all competitions and is within touching distance of its first major trophy since 1973 (victory in the FA Cup). The Black Cats have reached the final of this competition for the first time since 1985 (when they lost to Norwich City). The historical significance of this game will provide extra motivation for Gus Poyet’s group.
Winger Adam Johnson will look to display his impressive recent form at Wembley Stadium. Meanwhile, Poyet has omitted American striker Jozy Altidore from the gameday squad.
Wembley Stadium is the sight of the 2014 Capital One Cup final. Kickoff is set for 9 a.m.
Stay right here, as we’ll bring you all the action live.
Photo via Twitter/@CapitalOne_Cup