Manchester City have won the League Cup for the fourth time in five seasons by beating Aston Villa 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday, thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodrigo.
Mbwana Samatta scored a goal for Villa, but the wait for the first silverware since 1996 continues, as Pep Guardiola’s men have won six of the last seven major trophies in English football.
Guardiola made eight changes to the team that won 2-1 at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Kevin De Bruyne among those on the bench.
However, it didn’t matter, as City had the luxury of calling Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva to the starting XI, and the chasm in the class showed.
Guardiola’s series of changes also gave Phil Foden and the 19-year-old a rare start more than justified his selection.
Rodrigo’s fine pass chose Foden to return to Aguero’s path and Argentina’s deflected effort defeated Orjan Nyland in Villa’s goal and opened the scoring after 20 minutes.
Foden was then inches from a goal with a deflected kick that flew inches wide.
Villa was hurt when City won another corner moments later, after Jack Grealish fired the ball at Ilkay Gundogan for what should have been a goal kick.
Instead, City doubled the advantage, as Gundogan’s corner received a powerful header from Rodrigo.
Villa barely managed to play in the next 10 minutes as the players threatened to revolt in a repeat of the 6-1 rout they gave the hosts at Villa Park last month.
Sterling had a glorious chance for his first goal of 2020, deflected by a brave Tyrone Mings block.
Moments later, the reason why Mings is ahead of John Stones in the English hierarchy became clear when the City defender fell inexplicably to the ground to give Villa a lifeline.
A long forward pass reached Anwar El Ghazi and, from his crossing, Samatta passed Claudio Bravo, to the delight of the thousands of Birmingham travelers and the Villa Prince William supporter at the newsstands.
The difference in desperation for success between supports was obvious, as Villa was roaring with enthusiasm the entire time, while City failed to sell its allocation.
That did not make up for the difference in quality on the pitch, as City quickly returned to their pace and managed to introduce De Bruyne in the last half hour.
However, City failed to transform their dominance into more goals, as Rodrigo was prevented by a beautiful defense from Nyland in another corner, before Aguero fired into the side net, giving hope to Villa in the last 10 minutes.
And they were almost punished, as the often criticized Bravo had to make a brilliant save three minutes into the second half to turn Bjorn Engels’s header over the post and maintain City’s dominance in the competition.