Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 2
Before this game the amount of promotion the British Sports Media were putting into selling this game was frankly embarrassing as the only thing on their agenda was to try and brush over City’s fraudulent activities for a number of years which have recently been found out by football’s authorities.
Personally every single trophy won by City during the ownership of the Shiekh Mansour Khaldoon Al Mubarak will forever be tainted and in my opinion the Football Association should strip them of their honours during that period but I suppose that argument is for another day.
I’m sure that many neutrals would have predicted that Manchester City’s League Cup Final against a lowly Aston Villa today would be as big a walkover as their 6-0 FA Cup final win against Watford last year. However football can be funny old game and in my opinion Villa’s management team of Dean Smith and John Terry would never allow that kind of scoreline on their watch.
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa made just the one change from their 2-1 semi-final second leg win against Leicester City, with Engels replacing Konsa in defence. Manchester City on the other hand made five changes from their second leg defeat to Manchester United, with changes in every department, Stones, Fernandinho and Zinchenko replaced Otamendi, Joao Cancelo and Bernrdo Silva respectively, while in midfield Davd Silva is in for De Bruyne. In attack, it’s a rare start for Foden, getting the chance ahead of Mahraz.
From the start Midlands side were on the front foot and just five minutes in a great chance fell for El Ghazi. Elmohamady put in a delightful cross from the right edge of the penalty area to the far post for El Ghazii but he put his free header just over the crossbar.
It was clear early on that Villa were targeting back Manchester City full-backs as both El Chazi and Elmohamady were causing them concerns. However the cheats (Manchester City) soon stole the initiative but their attacks were being forced down to walking pace as Aston Villa packed their half in defence.
However on the 20th minute Manchester City got the breakthrough. Rodri played a lovely ball over the top into the penalty area for Foden, who used his head to knock it down for Aguero. The striker saw the bouncing ball and managed to power an awkward volley past Neyland.
Just 6 minutes later City almost went two up as Foden had his own chance. Zinchenko hit an exceptional switch to the outside of the penalty area for Foden on the right, he then cut inside and smashed a shot that took a touch off Targett before going behind for a corner.
By now Manchester City were having the luxury of slowing the play down, working it from side to side in search of a second goal which would provide some needed insurance.
In the 29th minute Aguero had a chance blocked by Engels. City were queuing up penalty area ooking for the perfect time to shoot as the ball came into the path of unmarked Aguero. The striker hit a shot which cannoned off the face of the defender before it went behind for a corner.
A further minute into the game and the cheats scored from a further corner but looking at the TV replays it shouldn’t have actually been rewarded in the first place as the final touch seemed to have come off Gundogan. From the corner Rodri got the better of Guilbert just outside the six-yard box and thumped his header past the keeper. Even through Gundogan won the corner in suspect circumstances, credit has to be given to him as he delivered a spectacular cross for Rodri, who doubled their advantage.
In the 34th minute Sterling nearly made it three as he had a shot blocked. A lovely ball over the top for Foden was centred for Sterling, who turned and blasted a shot from inside the 18-yard box which Mings did fantastically well to block without using his arms.
However just before the half-time whistle Aston Villa ut the deficit in half completely against the run of play. Stones fell over in an attempt to stop the run of El Ghazi, allowing the winger to continue unimpeded down the left. When in position, he looked up and found the run of Samatta, whose leaping header beat Bravo at the near post. El Ghazi made amends for his earlier missed chance with a fantastic assist for Samatta’s goal.
The goal before half-time may have put Villa boss Smith in a better mood though there was no denaying that his side were outplayed for large amounts of the first half, conceding almost 70% possession in the process.
From the start of the second half the Sky Blues almost got a third but Foden sent his effort wide. Manchester City’s free kick was headed out of the penalty area by Mings, who put a bouncing clearance at the foot of the wide forward. Without time to settle it down, he hit a volley into the ground and bounced it towards goal, however it skimmed the post on it‘s way out.
The for a long period of the second half the action was nowhere to be seen until the 74th minute when Villa keeper made a crucial save. Rodri got free from a corner for a second time, but his header to the far post was stopped at the corner of the goal and pushed out for another set-piece.
The moment Aston Villa fans were waiting for fell in the 88th minute as the post denied them a leveller. Engels rose above Jesus and put a close-range header on target from a corner, with Bravo only able to push the chance onto the frame of the goal before it ricocheted out. The ball was then recollected and sentback into the penalty area, but Bravo managed to get both hands onto the second sttempt.
Shortly after the referee then blew for full time resulting in Manchester City winning their seventh EFL Cup in their club history in a match they thoroughly controlled. However this is just the latest proof that from time to time cheats actually do win.