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@markbooth_mcfc investigates seven Talking Points from the 3-1 penalty shootout victory over Liverpool…
Following a week of debate on which goalkeeper Manuel Pellegrini would field at Wembley, the most heartwarming storyline of this showpiece final was saved for its incredible denouement.
Willy Caballero was largely untested over the course of a tense, attritional 120 minutes but when he was needed, he stepped up to the plate and then some, producing three consecutive penalty saves from Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana to win the day.
Pellegrini, and a number of his charges, took time out to heap special praise on the Argentine goalkeeper, who has played every minute of City’s run to the Capital One Cup final.
It was the first trophy of Willy’s 12-year career in Europe and provided the perfect answer to his critics in the days leading to the match, as well as serving as an important lesson in loyalty.
“I would rather lose a title than lose my word,” said Pellegrini after the game.
Well played boss and well played Willy.
He might not have pinged in an equaliser in from 40 yards nor danced through a crowd of United defenders to prod the ball past Edwin van der Saar this time, but Yaya Toure enjoyed another day to remember at the home of English football.
Following on from a typically influential performance at the heart of City’s midfield, it was Yaya, a man who has now won 17 major honours, who stepped up and nervelessly converted a perfect penalty to secure City’s fifth trophy in six years.
The African Footballer of the Year was the coolest man in the HA9 postcode when he stepped up to place the ball beyond Simon Mignolet’s despairing dive.
In the big matches, time and time again, it’s Yaya who comes up with the goods leading many supporters on social media to ponder: Is the Ivorian now the most decisive player in the club’s history?
If there’s any debate to be had on the above point, you can’t argue with cold, hard facts on this one.
No City club captain has now raised more major trophies than Vincent Kompany.
Tied with Tony Book on five trophy-lifts, on the pitch Vincent showed his usual blend of proactive, decisive tackling and ability to hold a defensive line, enabling the Blues to nip promising-looking Liverpool attacks in the bud or by managing our line force offsides.
The Belgian was asked after the game if Liverpool’s late equaliser in normal time had done anything to dent City’s belief that they would end the afternoon victorious.
His reply was telling, the words of a man who’s been there before and knows what it takes to get over the line where less experienced shoulders may have crumpled.
On Liverpool’s goal, Kompany said: “We’ve got experience, we look around at the celebrations but we know that we find a moment of peace and calmness and just keep doing what we were doing. They were playing well but we were creating chances.”
Nous, experience and leadership – undoubtedly up there with Messrs Book, Doyle and Watson in the pantheon of the greatest skippers City have ever had.
Even more than anything he said after the game or any aspect of his performance, what spoke volumes was Vincent’s first act upon Yaya Toure’s winning penalty.
Instead of joining his teammates to celebrate, Kompany went over and commiserated Liverpool’s crestfallen players.
Here’s to you, Vincent Kompany… you know the rest.
Speaking of classy gestures, another of City’s elder statesmen provided a further one shortly after ascending the steps to the Royal Box.
David Silva gave his winners’ medal to his compatriot Manu Garcia, the 18-year old who debuted and scored against Crystal Palace earlier in the competition.
Although losing on penalties in the cruellest way to taste defeat in any final, even the most ardent Liverpool fan would have trouble arguing against the fact that the right team won on the day.
City created all of the best chances over the course of the 120 minutes, hitting the post, having a credible penalty shout turned down and forcing a couple of excellent point blank saves from Simon Mignolet.
Pellegrini’s side looked to be heading towards victory in regulation time until Coutinho levelled late on with Liverpool’s first shot on target but, on reflection and with the benefit of hindsight, that just wouldn’t have been as much fun as it turned out to be.
Hard on the nerves though it was, winning a final on penalties brought back echoes of 1999 – our last Wembley win on spot-kicks – and gave us a new club folk hero in Caballero.
It’s academic now but should City have been given a penalty for Alberto Moreno’s tackle on Sergio Aguero in the second half?
If City hadn’t gone on to lift the cup, this would have been the moment supporters would have looked back to as a decisive moment in the match as Moreno appeared to get none of the ball with his eyes looking elsewhere and he seemed to trip our Argentine ace.
However, Michael Oliver didn’t give it and didn’t mete out any punishment to Kun, much to the bemusement of those in sky blue.
Although he was unable to take any part in the final, Kevin De Bruyne deserved his first medal as a City player as much as anyone.
The Belgian scored four times in the competition and set up three goals, his match-winning cameo from the bench against Everton in the semi-final second leg almost single-handedly booking his team’s place at Wembley.
For that reason, De Bruyne was the only City representative in the competition’s official Team of the Tournament.