Aymeric Laporte’s late header saw Manchester City break down a resilient Tottenham to win a fourth consecutive Carabao Cup at Wembley.
The Frenchman met Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick powerfully to nod beyond Hugo Lloris in the 82nd minute, capping a dominant City display.
Pep Guardiola’s side hardly let Spurs into their half in the first 45 minutes, during which Phil Foden went closest to an opener by forcing a super last-ditch block from Toby Alderweireld.
Wingers Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez – who gave Tottenham’s full-backs a torrid evening – also went close to breaking the deadlock before Paul Tierney brought the first half to a close.
Tottenham grew into the match after the interval and Giovani Lo Celso called City goalkeeper Zack Steffen into action for the first time with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
Spurs continued to have joy on the counter-attack and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg should have done much better than pass the ball out of play when finding himself with time in the box just after the hour mark.
Approaching the final 20 minutes, however, City reasserted their dominance and Mahrez stung Lloris’ palms with an effort from just outside the area.
And De Bruyne’s pinpoint delivery in the 82nd minute teed-up Laporte to head home the winner.
Here are five talking points from Wembley Stadium.
City’s maestros dazzle in first half
“City are all over them like a rash,” noted Gary Neville in the 27th minute.
The former England full-back was absolutely right; Manchester City started the final full of intensity and the only thing missing from their first-half performance was a goal.
Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden lit up Wembley with their movement and trickery, while Kevin De Bruyne pulled the strings from his floating No.10 role.
Foden – fielded as a false nine – forced a phenomenal block from Toby Alderweireld before Sterling clipped an effort from a tight angle just wide of the far post on the half-hour mark.
Then it was Riyad Mahrez’s turn to go close as the winger cut in from the right and whipped the ball narrowly wide of Lloris’ net twice in quick succession.
Spurs full-backs Sergio Reguilon and Serge Aurier were likely breathing sights of relief when referee Paul Tierney blew the whistle for half-time.
A feisty affair
Wembley may have been at nine per cent capacity and Pep Guardiola may have played down the importance of the Carabao Cup, but this was a truly thrilling game of football.
It had the atmosphere of a cup final from the off, with players not afraid to strut their stuff or throw their weight around.
As mentioned, City’s attackers gave the opposition backline a torrid time, but Spurs posed a constant threat on the break due to the pace and directness of Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura.
This meant there were numerous fouls were committed by either defence, and it was surprising to see that only Sergio Reguilon and Aymeric Laporte had been booked by half-time.
Laporte could count himself lucky not to have received two yellow cards by the interval, as he was guilty of preventing two Spurs counter-attacks with mistimed tackles.
There was much of the same in the second half, with Son, Moura and Fernandinho committing clumsy challenges in the midfield third, and the latter booked for his trouble.
Later on, there were audible boos when City failed to knock the ball out of play for a number of seconds as Reguilon lay on the pitch after a heavy tackle by Kyle Walker.
There weren’t many goals, but it was a pulsating final.
The England captain suffered an ankle injury in the 2-2 draw with Everton earlier this month, but it would take more than that to rule him out of a shot at his first major trophy.
City’s stranglehold on possession and territory meant Kane seldom saw the ball in the opposition half, and for much of the match he toiled in midfield with Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura operating ahead of him.
After an especially-quiet first half, Kane showed his quality shortly after the interval as Spurs began to have more joy on the front foot.
But, crucially, he was never allowed a shot on goal and it was yet another disappointing cup final for the world-class striker.
Mason blooded by the best
In just his second game in the Tottenham dugout, Ryan Mason found himself in a cup final.
This left him facing a decision: play the “Tottenham Hotspur way” – as he promised to do as interim manager – or opt for a more defensive-minded approach.
Mason chose the latter, with Harry Winks preferred to Tanguy Ndombele in the midfield trio, providing Spurs with more control in midfield at the cost of creativity.
This decision proved a shrewd one, with City kept at bay for the vast majority of the match and Spurs continuing to pose ample threat on the counter-attack in Ndombele’s absence.
But their steadfast defence was broken in the final 10 minutes, and Mason will feel aggrieved at substitute Moussa Sissoko’s weak effort while marking Aymeric Laporte for City’s goal.
Ultimately, there is no shame in losing to Pep Guardiola’s star-studded side, who were thoroughly deserving of yet more success in this competition.
A momentous day
In front of 8,000 fans – making it the most-attended UK event in over a year – it was a day to remember for Manchester City.
Their achievement of winning four consecutive Carabao Cups matches the record set by Liverpool between 1981 and 1984.
City’s late victory also broke Tottenham hearts – leaving Son Heung-min in tears – and Spurs’ wait for a first trophy since 2008 goes on.
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