–Man City win League Cup final marked by Chelsea keeper controversy
Manchester City beat Chelsea 4-3 on penalties to win a dramatic League Cup final at Wembley Sunday which saw an incredible bust-up between Blues boss Maurizio Sarri and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Pep Guardiola’s side retained the trophy they also won 12 months ago as Raheem Sterling scored the decisive spot-kick after Ederson saved from Jorginho and David Luiz hit the post.
The match had finished 0-0 after extra-time, with a tense affair exploding into life in the final moments when Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted by Sarri.
Kepa had received treatment for an injury in the final stages, but also has an inferior record of saving spot-kicks than Willy Caballero, who Sarri attempted to introduce.
City goalkeeper Ederson denied Jorginho and David Luiz hit the post in the shootout before Raheem Sterling smashed the winning penalty past Kepa.
Until that flashpoint, the afternoon had been a success for Sarri just two weeks on from Chelsea’s worst defeat since 1991 in a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of City in the Premier League.
The chances of Sarri losing his job were only heightened by a FA Cup elimination at the hands of Manchester United on Monday.
With his back to the wall, it was perhaps understandable then that Sarri adopted a far more cautious approach.
Gonzalo Higuain was dropped to the bench to leave Eden Hazard to plough a lone furrow up front — as the Belgian did when Chelsea beat City 2-0 in December.
Sarri is an open admirer of City boss Pep Guardiola’s work, but accepted his side’s limitations by gifting City possession and being far harder to break down than in recent weeks.
Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick in the Etihad mauling a fortnight ago, but the Argentine could only volley over with the best chance of a first half with precious few opportunities.
Kepa had been struggling with cramp and Sarri was ready to take off the Spaniard, only to be left fuming when his keeper insisted he could carry on.
City’s success leaves them still on course for the quadruple as they chase further success in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.