CHELSEA 0, MAN CITY 0
(after extra time, City won 3-2 on penalties)
Manchester City lifted the Carabao Cup, the first part of an historic quadruple they are pursuing.
It was a struggle, though, as City were below par and needed a penalty shootout before triumphing at Wembley.
City, who swept Chelsea aside 6-0 a fortnight earlier in the Premier League, found Maurizio Sarri’s side far more robust opponents this time.
They managed only three on target goal attempts in 120 minutes while Chelsea didn’t register one on what was a desperately poor final.
It only exploded to life late in extra time when there was a bizarre incident when Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted.
Then in the shootout Jorginho and David Luiz both had their kicks saved by Ederson while City missed only one of their five kicks as Leroy Sane was denied by Arrizabalaga.
This was also City’s third penalty shootout success in their six League Cup victories as they climbed to second on the all-time list behind eight times winners Liverpool.Embed from Getty Images
City manager Pep Guardiola said: “We have two titles in our basket (Community Shield and Carabao Cup) and three more to play for.
“The reality is what happened two weeks ago was not normal, and it was the way they reacted. The game was a final and difficult for both sides.
“Of course I’m happy, but tired. Compliments to Chelsea, they played an incredible performance. I’m happy to win back to back in this competition for the first time in the club’s history.
“The important thing when it comes to penalties is personality and we did it.”
Guardiola was also delighted his side found a way to win when not at their best.
He added: “We played incredible players, Chelsea have incredible quality and, after the game two weeks ago, we knew it would be more difficult. It was a final.
“Being in so many competitions is demanding and tough and we have players injured.”
Guardiola revealed Aymeric Laporte and Ferdandinho will both be out for weeks with muscular injuries.
Sarri described it as a “misunderstanding” over the substitution of the keeper.
He explained he wanted to bring on Willy Caballero on because he thought the keeper had cramp, but the doctor confirmed that he didn’t have that complaint.
“He was right for the motivation, but not for the conduct,” said Sarri.
City made only once change from the side that enjoyed a win at Schalke in midweek in the Champions League as Oleksandr Zinchenko replaced Ilkay Gundogan.
They had Sane and Riyad Mahrez on the bench, but not the injured Gabriel Jesus or John Stones.
Chelsea, by contrast, had five changes from the side that beat Malmo in the Europa League on Thursday.
Their returnees were Arrizabalaga, Eden Hazard, Pedro, David Luiz and Jorginho.
Chelsea had plenty of firepower in reserve with Gonzalo Higuain, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odio.
Hazard was the lone front man with Pedro and Willian out wide in a 4-3-3 line up.
It was a low key opening as it was not until midway through the opening period that either side registered a goal attempt, Sergio Aguero blazing over from a Bernardo Silva cross.
Chelsea, 4-0 down after 25 minutes a fortnight ago in their 6-0 league loss at City, were far more resolute and reached that mark without ever looking like conceding a goal.
Aguero forced the first save of the game from either keeper in the 28th minute, though his effort was probably going wide.
After what happened a fortnight ago, Chelsea will regard it as a moral victory to have got to the break on level terms.
City were forced to make a change at the break as Laporte was replaced by Vincent Kompany.
Aguero found the net in the 56th minute but he had strayed marginally offside – feet were level but bodies weren’t – when latching on to a shot from David Silva.
Chelsea had their first clear-cut chance midway through the second period when they ought to have taken the lead.
Willian’s superb lofted pass released Hazard on the left and he raced to the by-line before cutting the ball back to N’Golo Kante who shot just over from eight yards.
Chelsea suddenly sensed they may snatch victory as Willian set up Ross Barkley who bent a shot just over.
Hazard released Pedro, who ought to have shot, but the forward opted to cross and the danger was cut out.
Two changes were made with 11 minutes left as David Silva made way for Ilkay Gundogan while Chelsea brought on Hudson-Odoi for Pedro.
City made their third and final change with four minutes left as Kevin De Bruyne made way for Sane.
Willian’s free kick dipped from wide on the left dipped inches over the bar.
Fernandinho limped off at the end of injury time and was replaced by Danilo as City were permitted to make a fourth change in extra time.
The first period of extra time remained as cagey as the opening 90 minutes, though Jorginho pulled a shot narrowly wide for Chelsea.
City almost snatched the lead in the 110th minute when Sterling’s weaving run set up Aguero but his shot from inside the six-yard box was blocked and Chelsea scrambled away the danger.
And they went close again with three minutes left when Aguero’s shot from outside the box forced a decent diving save from Arrizabalaga.
There was drama at the death when Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted as Sarri intended to bring on Caballero for the shootout.
And that provided most of the excitement as Jorginho and Luiz had their spot kicks saved as did City’s Sane with Sterling smashing in the decisive kick in off the underside of the crossbar as they successfully defended the cup and lifted it for a sixth time.