League Cup

Man City lift cup on penalties after astonishing drama between Kepa and Sarri

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Vincent Kompany of Manchester City lifts the trophy after winning the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England.

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24/02/2019 at 18:20 | Updated 24/02/2019 at 21:40

Carabao Cup Final, Wembley - Chelsea 0 Manchester City 0 (Manchester City 4-3 on penalties)

Manchester City lifted the League Cup on penalties on Sunday afternoon but their victory was overshadowed by a truly astonishing passage of drama between Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri and his goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

After a tense extra-time period it looked as if Chelsea would have to make a substitution late on when Kepa went down with apparent cramp or a possible recurrence of the hamstring injury that kept him out of Thursday’s Europa League victory over Malmo.

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Reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero - the hero of City's League Cup triumph in 2014 - was stripped and ready to face his former employers, but Kepa refused to be substituted off.

Willy Caballero

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The 24-year-old visibly waved to the bench to signal that he was not going off, despite Sarri clearly indicating that he wanting to make the sub.

It led to an astonishing few minutes as Sarri walked down the tunnel, only to return, and then he was seen berating Kepa before the shoot-out.

Kepa then failed to cover himself in glory with Sergio Aguero’s penalty when he guessed the right way but let the ball go through his hands.

He did save Leroy Sane’s weak effort but after David Luiz hit the post Raheem Sterling scored the winner to give Manchester City this season’s first piece of silverware, the sixth time they have won the League Cup.

Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the winning penalty in the penalty shootout at the end of the English League Cup final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in north London on Februar

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Sarri would have been more than satisfied with his side's showing in 90 minutes. Having watched his men ship six goals to City just a fortnight ago, the under-pressure Italian demanded more resiliency from his Chelsea charges - and for the opening 45 minutes the Blues' gameplan was simply to contain their opponents.

In the second-half, Aguero thought he had broken the deadlock but his goal - after a quick review of VAR - was ruled out as the Argentine was marginally offside.

But then Chelsea took the shackles off and posed much more of a threat. The magnificent Eden Hazard created a glorious chance when he raced behind the City defence, pulled it back for N'Golo Kante whose rising shot drifted agonisingly over the bar.

By the end of normal time, Guardiola would have been relieved to gather his players for a reshuffle, such was Chelsea's pressure.

The extra-time period passed without incident, until Kepa's unbelievable defiance - a moment in the game that will dominate the headlines and perhaps spell the end for the Italian - or the Spanish goalkeeper.

TALKING POINT - The final straw for Sarri?

For 119 minutes, Chelsea performed remarkably, showing great character in response to that 6-0 drubbing they received from City only a fortnight ago. The players really worked hard for their manager and, arguably, deserved to win the cup in normal time.

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea refuses to be substituted during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England

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But then, in an episode rarely witnessed on a professional football pitch, Kepa undid all of his team and manager's good work when he disrespected his manager by overruling his decision to be substituted. It begs the question: who is really in control of this Chelsea team? And how can Sarri come back from this? Talk about player-power. In stark contrast to their opponent's troubles, City can celebrate the first leg of success on a journey that Pep Guardiola will be hoping culminates in an historic quadruple.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Raheem Sterling was outstanding for City, but Hazard was the key player and didn't deserve to be on the losing side. Operating as a 'false-nine' for much of the contest, the Belgian's pace and movement caused City an absolute headache, as Chelsea threatened on the counter-attack. At times in the second-half, it almost felt like Hazard was trying to win the game for Chelsea on his own.

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (L) crosses the ball during the English League Cup final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in north London on February 24, 2019.

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Man City: Ederson 7, Zinchenko 6, Laporte 5, Otamendi, 6 Walker 7, Fernandinho 7, Silva 6, De Bruyne 6, Bernardo 7, Sterling 8, Aguero 6. Subs: Danilo 5, Kompany 5, Gundogan 6, Sane 5, Mahrez, Foden.

Chelsea XI: Kepa 5, Azpilicueta 7, Rudiger 7, Luiz 6, Emerson 6, Jorginho 7, Kante 8, Barkley 6, Hazard 9, Willian 6, Pedro 6. Subs: Loftus-Cheek 5, Hudson-Odoi 5, Higuain 5.


56' - GOAL CHALKED OFF! Aguero coolly slots home... but he is a couple of yards behind Rudiger and the lineman raises his flag. The decision is being reviewed by VAR... which concludes that Aguero was just offside.

66' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Hazard gets behind the City defence once again. He goes past Kompany too easily and cuts the ball back to Kante on the edge of the box... but the Frenchman's shot rises agonisingly over the crossbar, The best chance of the game so far.

109' - CITY CHANCE! Sterling the architect. He easily goes past Emerson on the flank, cuts it back into the danger area, Aguero's toe-poked effort is blocked and Chelsea manage to scramble clear.

119' EXTRAORDINARY SCENES! Sarri has instructed Caballero to replace Kepa, who is clearly struggling, but the Chelsea goalkeeper is REFUSING to come off! The manager has been overruled by his player - Kepa is staying on! And Sarri is livid! He is throwing water bottles and all sorts. Sarri looks like he is about to storm off down the tunnel, but then has a change of heart and returns to the touchline. Have you ever witnessed anything like this?

Kepa v Sarri

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  • The last two League Cup finals to go to penalties have both been won by Manchester City - they have now won each of their last six penalty shootouts.
  • Manchester City, 2018 winners of the League Cup against Arsenal, are only the fourth team to retain the trophy after Manchester United, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
  • Chelsea have now lost four times at Wembley this season, losing in the Community Shield against Manchester City and in the Premier League and League Cup semi-final against Spurs.

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FootballLeague CupChelseaManchester City
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