City made us all extremely happy yesterday by bringing home the League Cup for the first time in decades. It was a fantastic day out and a genuinely good cup final. The crowd were in full voice and the team showed their quality at just the right times. Here are a few thoughts on the game…
Sunderland Were Excellent
Right from the start Sunderland harried and hassled City. They turned in a performance full of energy, ambition, and intent to unsettle City and Fabio Borini’s 9th minute goal was no less than they deserved for their efforts. A ball over the top caught Kompany and Demichelis out of position, the former tried to clear the ball rather than shield Borini away from goal and, one outstanding finish later, Sunderland were one up.
A lesser team might have taken this as their cue to park the bus and defend and hope for 80 minutes. Not Sunderland. For the majority of the rest of the half they were on top of the game and had several chances to increase their lead and take the game away from City.
The 5 man midfield in particular was excellent, smothering City’s usually reliable men in the centre and not letting them dictate the flow of the game. On the wing, Adam Johnson also had an excellent game and gave City no time to rest.
If this had been a Premier League game then a draw might have been a fair result, however this was not to be…
Moments of Greatness
The game turned on two moments of unrepeatable greatness – The first from Yaya Toure, the second from Samir Nasri.
Toure’s goal came from absolutely nothing but will live long in the memory. It was easily one of the best goals of the season so far and could not have come at a better time. City were beginning to look a bit desperate before Yaya took it upon himself to invent the geometry of the future and score. The first mentions of last year’s FA Cup Final were being mentioned in hushed whispers around the stands. The (justified) fear of Sunderland was looking like being realised.
But Toure’s goal immediately, shockingly, put Sunderland on the back foot. Self belief clearly flowed through the City players and in no time at all City were in front. Nasri made up for the two cup finals he had previously been on the losing side of with a stunning outside of the boot strike. Audacious doesn’t even cover it.
Navas scored a third goal towards the end of the game in what is becoming a trademark style for him and looked like the happiest man in the world afterwards. But even with that, the game was won the moment Nasri scored. Everything the Sunderland players had fought so hard for was undone by two irresistibly talented players at something like the peak of their playing careers. Both goals were things that I did not realise were possible with a football.
One of Many…
…Hopefully. Hopefully Sunday’s cup win lays the foundations for the most successful season in City’s recent history. The FA Cup and Premier League are both achievable goals if this City team can hit their stride properly for the run in.
Aguero is back and looked like he’d never been away. Nasri and Silva have never looked better than they do this year. Toure and Fernandinho are, quite simply, dominant. The only worries rest with the increasingly embarrassing Edin Dzeko and a defence which seems, more and more, to have a mistake in them. Even Kompany who is normally impervious to human failings has dropped a few clangers in recent weeks. But despite that, there is a new confidence among the fans that we might be on the verge of witnessing something rather special.
As Pellegrini said after the game, one trophy is not enough for either this team or the fans. We want more of this!
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter