Sunday, 28 February 2016
Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool (city won on penalty)
Cup finals are often cagey, tense and respectful and this one was no different. The game needed an early goal. It didn't get it and, unfortunately, what unfolded was something of a Wembley snorefest. One of the more engaging moments wa Sakho hiding under his coat on the bench, possibly in tears, after being forced off against his will following a concussion sustained in a clash of heads with Emre Can.
Sakho was inconsolable, but he would have been even worse had Sergio Aguero capitalised on his slip just moments prior to being substituted. The French defender lost his balance and as he staggered to the floor, the City striker skipped past him only for his curling effort to be met with a well-judged save from Mignolet.
However, the Belgian stopper was at fault for Fernandinho's opener after 49 minutes in a development that finally injected some interest into proceedings. Liverpool had allowed Aguero to receive a long pass on the edge of their area on several occasions and, this time round, the Argentine held the ball up, waited for Fernandinho to gallop past him on the right and slot in an easy pass. The Brazilian still had plenty to do and although his shot was well struck,Simon Mignolet let the ball fly straight through and into the far corner.
Liverpool's response was encouraging. They worked a neat, short-passing move that concluded with an excellent opportunity for formerMan City midfielder James Milner, but he could only screw his shot well wide after making a fine run from right to left.
But if James Milner grimaced after squandering his chance, Sterling was right to throw his hands to his face after making a mess of a golden opportunity to put the game beyond his former employers' grasp. Silva found himself in space and squared it to an unmarked Raheem Sterling, but failing to properly adjust his body in time, the winger skewed his shot wide one-on-one with Mignolet. Sterling's reaction, as well as that of his manager, told the whole story - it was a shocking miss.
Liverpool were pressing high and searching hard for an equaliser, but that inevitably left them susceptible to City's counter and they rode their luck at times. Aguero broke away to receive a long pass and had a huge penalty shout turned away by referee Michael Oliver after clashing with Alberto Moreno. It would have been a soft decision but Segio Aguero was infuriated nevertheless.
Liverpool manager Klopp looked an exasperated figure on the touchline during the second half but he erupted with emotion when Philipe Coutinho rifled home the equaliser seven minutes from time, with Liverpool's first shot on target. Clyne teased an excellent pass across the goal to Adam Lallana and after he could only clatter the post from a tight angle, the Brazilian finished off competently first-time to salvage the Reds' cup hopes.
There was enough time for Simon Mignolet to atone, not once but twice, for his earlier mishap, saving from Fernando's point-blank effort before throwing himself in front of Sagna's effort after a goalmouth scramble and with extra-time looming.
Right on the stroke of half-time in extra-time,Simon Mignolet produced a truly outstanding save to deny Segio Aguero, getting his fingertips on the striker's effort to keep his side in the game. Then, just after the restart, Caballero made a tremendous stop to palm away Divoc Origi's header. It took the match a painful amount of time to get going, finally producing some captivating stuff. Tired minds came into play as the clock wore on and Milner almost gifted Segio Aguero the winner with a shot backpass of a header, but he puffed his cheeks after thankfully watching the striker put his effort well over.
After extra time, the league Cup would be decided by a penalty shootout. It was all about holding the nerve in the most pressure-packed situation, that lonely walk from 12 yards. Can converted a Panenka, followed by Fernandinho hitting the post. Caballero then saved from Lucas and Coutinho, guessing right both times, sandwiched in between Navas finding the net.Segio Aguero got City ahead 2-1 with a perfectly placed effort before Caballero produced another fantastic save to deny Lallana. After that, it was Toure who delivered the decisive spot-kick as City triumphed, leaving Klopp's men utterly devastated. Nobody was doubting Pellegrini's decision to stick with Caballero anymore.