MAN CITY BEAT Liverpool 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday. AFP Sports looks at five things we learnt as the first major prize of the English domestic season was settled:
Sterling investment yet to pay dividends
Booed by Liverpool fans still furious with the way he engineered his £49 million ($67 million) move to City last year, Raheem Sterling had the last laugh as he celebrated his first piece of major silverware at the expense of his tormentors.
But Sterling was actually well below his best and the England winger missed two golden chances to double his side’s lead, the first especially bad when, unmarked six yards from goal, he somehow managed to shoot well wide.
He must do better on the big stage in future to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Safety-first move frustrates Sakho
Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho had to be consoled by the club’s backroom staff after being forced off with a first half head injury.
Sakho clashed heads with team-mate Emre Can as the pair jumped for a high ball and it was the Frenchman who came off worse.
Although he tried to carry on playing, Jurgen Klopp decided he didn’t look right, provoking a furious reaction from the defender, who hurled a water bottle on the touchline and then buried his head in his coat on the bench.
Klopp appeared to apologise to Sakho, but with concussions in sport a growing concern it seemed the Reds boss had little choice.
Aguero’s class shines through
Sergio Aguero provided City’s lone moment of menace in the first half when he hit a post after opening up the Liverpool defence with a fine solo run.
And crucially, the Argentina forward showed his class in the 49th minute when he seized possession on the edge of the penalty area and held the ball until just the right moment to slide a perfectly-weighted pass for Fernandinho to score.
Aguero should have earned a second half penalty when Alberto Moreno stuck out a leg to trip him after being tricked by the City star’s quick turn.
He did waste a pair of chances to win it in extra-time, but was coolness personified with his spot-kick in the shoot-out.
Mignolet goes from zero to hero
Simon Mignolet had already been criticised for several shaky displays this season and the doubters were given more ammunition in the 49th minute when the Liverpool goalkeeper allowed Fernandinho’s shot to squirm under him into the net.
But the 27-year-old Belgian redeemed himself impressively with fine saves from Fernando and Yaya Toure to force extra-time and a superb one-handed stop to keep out Aguero in the additional period.
He didn’t save any of City’s penalties in the shoot-out despite going the right way on several occasions.
Kompany key to City success
Playing for just the third time in 2016 after recovering from a nagging calf injury, Vincent Kompany underlined his importance to City with a towering display.
The City captain had irritated boss Manuel Pellegrini by playing for Belgium when he wasn’t completely recovered from injury earlier this season, but there is no doubt of Kompany’s value to the Eastlands outfit, who have lost only two of his 15 appearances in all competitions this term, and he proved it again by snuffing out the Liverpool attack.
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