Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola’s champions win third Carabao Cup in succession as goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri are enough to fend off Dean Smith’s valiant side at Wembley
- Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for Manchester City after being teed up in the box by Phil Foden
- Rodri headed in City’s second goal from a corner which should have been a Aston Villa goal-kick
- Mbwana Samatta pulled one back for Villa just before half-time with a powerful header past Claudio Bravo
- Bjorn Engels’ late header was tipped onto the post by goalkeeper Bravo as City crept over the line in the end
Unlike so much in the world right now, the worst fears were not realised. Manchester City did not crush Aston Villa in a way that was demoralising or humiliating. They won by the smallest margin, a single goal, and were made to work for it until the very end.
Their hold on domestic cup competitions remains, however. This was their third straight League Cup win, to go with last season’s clean sweep. And while it was not a mismatch, it was never really in doubt. Villa were 2-0 down after 30 minutes and only got back into the game became of a John Stones mishap very much against the run of play.
That Villa could have levelled on 87 minutes when a Bjorn Engels header hit the post from a corner, shows the peril of not turning possession into goals. Manchester City dominated but failed to put Villa away; and every team has a puncher’s chance from set pieces.
Manchester City celebrate claiming the Carabao Cup after the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium
Pep Guardiola’s side climbed up the famous steps and captain David Silva raised the trophy aloft
Rodri scored City’s second goal with a header and was soaked with champagne as his team-mates sprayed him
It was heartbreak for Aston Villa in the end – captain Jack Grealish shows his dejection after the full-time whistle
By the end, Pep Guardiola had introduced Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva – three of the starters from the midweek win over Real Madrid – a sure sign that the game wasn’t going according to plan.
Aston Villa: Nyland, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Elmohamady (Trezeguet 70), Nakamba, Douglas Luiz, Targett, El Ghazi (Hourihane 70), Samatta (Davis 80), Grealish
Subs not used: Taylor, Lansbury, Konsa, Reina
Goals: Samatta 41
Bookings: Nakamba, Elmohamady, Mings
Manager: Dean Smith
Man City: Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Zinchenko, Gundogan (De Bruyne 58), Rodri, Silva (Bernardo Silva 76), Sterling, Aguero (Jesus 83), Foden
Subs not used: Mendy, Mahrez, Otamendi, Ederson
Goals: Aguero 20, Rodri 30
Bookings: Sterling, Rodri
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Referee: Lee Mason
He had lost Sergio Aguero to injury – following a collision volleying what should have been the goal that settled it – and when five minutes injury time was announced the reaction from the Villa end suggested optimism rarely seen against City.
It was not to be, and the best team won, but Villa can take heart from this in their battle against relegation. It wasn’t a win, or a trophy, but it wasn’t a painful day of reckoning either. Against these odds – 7-0 to City was the same price as 1-0 to Villa – it’s about as good as it might get.
Whatever the future holds for Manchester City, a defensive upgrade has to be a priority. They cannot continue like this, dominating game yet always vulnerable to the most random factors, such as John Stones’ inexplicable fall minutes before to half-time. It is hard tio convey just how comfortable City were at that time.
They were two goals clear with Aston Villa reduced to ever most desperate interventions at the back. One saw Bjorn Engels throw himself into the sort of manic block that John Terry used to make – no surprise given he is now Villa’s coach.
It was shaping up to be a repeat of Manchester City’s demolition of Watford by six goals in the last FA Cup final – or Villa’s disappointing FA Cup final appearance in 2015, beaten 4-0 by Arsenal. Yet somehow, Stones undermined that supremacy and allowed Villa to go in a goal behind, and reinvigorated by this unlikely turn of events.
Sergio Aguero opens the scoring for Manchester City after 20 minutes, slotting the ball into the bottom-corner
Aguero was assisted by Phil Foden, who found the Argentine in the box with a accurate header back across the face of goal
Midfielder Rodri doubles City’s advantage after half-an-hour, directing the ball beyond the grasp of Villa keeper Orjan Nyland
The Spanish international celebrates his goal, after capitalising from a corner which shouldn’t have been awarded
Stones fell. It can happen to anyone, but it is astonishing how often it happens to him, these little accidents. He was tracking a through ball, one eye on Anwar El Ghazi, another on Mbwana Samatta, and just seemed to trip over his own feet and collapse in a heap.
El Ghazi sprinted through, suddenly unchallenged, and his a lovely cross which Samatta converted with a powerful diving header. Very impressive – and suddenly Villa were back in it.
They shouldn’t have been. After a bright start which saw El Ghazi head narrowly over from an Ahmed Elmohamady centre, the game settled into a familiar pattern: Villa defending in deep banks, City probing artfully around them. Sergio Aguero had a header from an Ilkay Gundogan cross go wide after nine minutes but, with 20 gone, City struck.
Villa striker Mbwana Samatta pulls a goal back just before half-time with an excellent diving header at the near-post
The Tanzanian got in-between Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko to give his team a route back into the final at Wembley
Bjorn Engels came so close to a dramatic equaliser for Aston Villa but his header was saved onto the post by Claudio Bravo
Bravo managed to claw his right hand onto the ball, with the rebound hitting the post and City eventually cleared their lines
It was another goal that showcased the vision of Phil Foden. He was causing Matt Targett all manner of problems on the right, and Rodri picked him out with a sweet diagonal ball. Most players of his age would have tried to hit an area, central around the six yard box, where Villa’s defences were massed.
Foden is better than that, though. He could see Aguero arriving and cut the ball back to him with a beautifully weighted header. City’s talismanic striker needs no better offer than that, and finished smartly past goalkeeper Orjan Nyland.
Foden could have added to the total with a curling shot on 27 minutes, picked out cross field again, this time by Oleksandr Zinchenko. And then City scored their second, with a straightforward set piece that seemed to catch Villa half asleep – no doubt to the fury of Terry, and others, on the Villa bench.
Guardiola was nervous in the second-half as his side failed to kill off a valiant and defiant Villa but they came through
It is now three Carabao Cup wins in succession for City and Guardiola places importance on the competition
Gundogan whipped it in from the right, Rodri met it with little opposition. Getting outplayed by City is no sin, but the very least Villa manager Dean Smith could have hoped for was that his team would compete, would jump.
Foden was involved again in the 36th minute when he again cut the ball back for Raheem Sterling, who shot was blocked on its way to goal by Tyrone Mings. The young man had a fierce shot flash across the face of goal shortly after half-time, too.
Then, after 57 minutes, Pep Guardiola decided to introduce Kevin De Bruyne from the substitutes bench, although one of his first touches involved stepping on the ball, slipping, and almost letting Villa in on the counter attack. Maybe it’s catching.
There were scenes of jubilation on the Wembley turf and City are targeting more silverware this season
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