Football: Man City keep faith, win Cup

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini (left) celebrates winning the League Cup against Liverpool and (above) dejected Reds player Philippe Coutinho is consoled after the shoot-out.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini (above) celebrates winning the League Cup against Liverpool and dejected Reds player Philippe Coutinho is consoled after the shoot-out.PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
After Manchester City's 3-1 win on penalties against Liverpool in the League Cup final on Sunday, the hero of that victory, goalkeeper Willy Caballero, is chaired off the ground by team-mate Wilfried Bony.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini celebrates winning the League Cup against Liverpool and (above) dejected Reds player Philippe Coutinho is consoled after the shoot-out. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCYPHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Unfancied Caballero delivers after studying Liverpool and saving three penalties

LONDON • Yaya Toure went one way, racing off towards the jubilant Manchester City fans, celebrating his penalty that settled the remarkable League Cup final on Sunday.

His team-mates, though, sprinted in another direction, towards Willy Caballero, the unlikely headline-maker who saved three Liverpool penalties in the shoot-out to write his name in Wembley legend.

Pablo Zabaleta won the race to congratulate Caballero, shortly followed by Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi and Bacary Sagna.

 

Toure quickly joined in and soon all the City players were leaping on their plucky 13.

He was eventually lifted on to the strong shoulders of Wilfried Bony in celebration as City triumphed 3-1 on penalties after the Wembley Stadium showpiece finished 1-1 despite extra time.

Caballero is a popular character in the City dressing room. It is understood there would have been concern among his fellow Argentinians if he had been stood down after starting all the club's League Cup games en route to Wembley.


After Manchester City's 3-1 win on penalties against Liverpool in the League Cup final on Sunday, the hero of that victory, goalkeeper Willy Caballero, is chaired off the ground by team-mate Wilfried Bony. PHOTO: REUTERS

FOLLOWING HIS INTUITION

I tried to see all the penalties last night, I tried to watch, but my intuition helped me. To win this Cup is amazing. It was a hard, hard week for me.

WILLY CABALLERO, Man City goalkeeper, on his heroics in the penalty shoot-out.

SELECTION VINDICATED

I'm happy for Willy Caballero because I think he deserved his moment. I'm happy to have won a title in February, that is very important for the trust of the team. And I'm happy for Joe Hart, who showed he is not only a very good goalkeeper but a very good person by always supporting Willy and helping him in the dressing room.

MANUEL PELLEGRINI, Man City manager, on why he kept fait h with Caballero over Joe Hart for the League Cup final.

COPING WITH THE PAIN

You have to feel a defeat. You can't say it wasn't important because it was. At this moment, we have to go the hard way, nothing is easy. But, if we carry on working really hard, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That is really important. But tonight we feel s***.

JUERGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on recovering from the pain of the defeat.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini kept his word and the Argentinian started ahead of Joe Hart.

The decision was undeniably controversial, given Hart's quality, and was certainly not greeted with rapture by the City fans. But, from the moment Caballero dropped low to cut out Alberto Moreno's cross after two minutes, the Argentinian impressed.

His performance, not simply in the shoot-out - when he denied Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Leiva and Adam Lallana - but also in normal time when he denied Divock Origi, vindicated Pellegrini's decision.

"I'm very happy, not because it is my final season (with City) but for a lot of reasons," said the City manager, who will be replaced by Spaniard Pep Guardiola at the end of the season. "I'm happy for the performance of the team against a very difficult side in Liverpool.

"I'm happy for Willy Caballero because I think he deserved his moment. I'm happy to have won a title in February, that is very important for the trust of the team.

"And I'm happy for Joe Hart who showed he is not only a very good goalkeeper but a very good person by always supporting Willy and helping him in the dressing room.

"The decision I took last week at Chelsea was very important for winning this trophy tonight and winning in Kiev (in the Champions League) on Wednesday."

Pellegrini had been widely criticised for starting five youngsters in the 5-1 FA Cup defeat by Chelsea seven days previously and for retaining Caballero as his Cup goalkeeper after the 34-year-old's poor display at Stamford Bridge.

Caballero said he spent the night before the game studying Liverpool's penalty-takers in the shoot-outs against Carlisle United in the third round and Stoke City in the semi-finals.

"I tried to see all the penalties last night, I tried to watch, but my intuition helped me," he said. "To win this Cup is amazing. It was a hard, hard week for me."

City were stretched to the limit by Liverpool but Juergen Klopp's hopes of winning a trophy 143 days into his Anfield reign died with Caballero's expertise.

Fernandinho had given City the lead after 49 minutes when his shot slipped through goalkeeper Simon Mignolet's grasp but Coutinho levelled late on.

Klopp will have an immediate chance to exact revenge when City visit Anfield tomorrow, but the German, who cut a dejected figure after losing his fourth consecutive final, admitted that his side had to learn from the pain of defeat to improve.

"You have to feel a defeat. You can't say it wasn't important because it was," he said. "At this moment, we have to go the hard way, nothing is easy. But, if we carry on working really hard, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That is really important. But tonight we feel s***."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'CITY KEEP FAITH, WIN CUP'. Print Edition | Subscribe