MAN CITY 3, SUNDERLAND 1
Manchester City completed the first leg of a potential domestic treble as they lifted the Capital One Cup.
It was far from a straightforward victory, however, as they struggled to overcome spirited Sunderland at Wembley.
It took a magical one minute 45 second spell, in which Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri both scored spectacular goals, to transform City’s fortunes.
But, it was only in the last minute that City substitute Jesus Navas sealed victory with a third goal.
Until the double strike early in the second half, it looked as though Sunderland would cause an upset of the magnitude of Wigan’s win against City in the final of the FA Cup 10 months earlier.
Fabio Borini had stunned City as his goal saw Sunderland snatch an early lead which they comfortably held on to until early in the second period.
Sunderland, who had chances to build on their lead, remained in control for 45 minutes as it looked as though they would maintain their impressive run of results against City who they had beaten four times in their previous seven meetings.
The Black Cats had looked capable of causing another upset having previously beaten Chelsea and Manchester United en route to the final.
It eventually proved to be City’s day to the delight of manager Manuel Pellegrini who admitted last season’s defeat to Wigan may have been responsible for their disappointing opening half.
He also thought his side didn’t play as well as it can do saying they struggled to create space.
Pellegrini said: “I told the players at half time they had 45 minutes to change the score and it was important to stay calm, patient and have trust in what we can do.
“What happened last year at Wembley may be was still in the mind. It was not easy as we were 1-0 down against Sunderland who played a very good game and defended very well. They deserved to be in the final after beating Manchester United and Chelsea.
“Of course this will give us a lot of confidence and we are the only club with a chance to win all the competitions. And after failing last year, it was important for us to win.
“I am sure we will win more titles and this was the first one today.”
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet could not fault the spirit and endeavour of his players.
He said: “For the first half, we were more than decent, but quality settled the game and two wonder strikes.
“We didn’t make any mistakes and give it to them. They had to earn it. We tried our best and I am proud of them.”
Costel Pantilimon was preferred in goal to Joe Hart while Sergio Aguero was back after injury to replace Alvaro Negredo, the two changes from the side which kicked off against Stoke City in their last league match.
Sunderland’s side included City old boy Adam Johnson and former Manchester United defenders Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown and John O’Shea.
City created the first clear-cut chance of the afternoon when Aguero’s drive forced a decent diving save from Vito Mannone.
It was Sunderland, however, who snatched a surprise 10th minute lead when Borini bustled past Vincent Kompany before firing a low shot into the far corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
City took time to recover from the setback as they struggled to make headway against a well organised and solid Sunderland defence while the Black Cats were also a threat with their counter attacks.
And Sunderland came close to doubling their advantage after one such attack when Borini burst clear. The Italian delayed his shot enabling Kompany to make a goal-saving tackle.
Early in the second half Pantilimon had to be alert to tip over a terrific 35-yard drive from Ki Sung-Yeung.
The game dramatically swung City’s way as they scored two goals in little over one minute.
Yaya Toure equalised with a goal out of nothing as he took a return pass from Pablo Zabaleta before curling a delightful 30-yard effort into the top corner for his 17th goal of the season.
City fans were still celebrating when Nasri gave his side the lead with another majestic strike bending home a left-wing cross from Aleksandar Kolarov.
Aguero, returning after a lay off, was replaced by Navas just short of the hour while City later Silva and Edin Dzeko were replaced by Javi Garcia and Negredo.
And it was Navas who sealed victory after a 90th minute breakaway as Sunderland chased an equaliser.
Yaya Toure launched a four-versus-two breakaway and released Navas whose shot beat Mannone inside his near post as City could finally celebrate their first piece of silverware under Pellegrini.