|MANCHESTER CITY 1 (0)||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)|
|Date : – 25th April 2021||Kick off : – 16.30|
|Competition : – League Cup Final||Venue : – Wembley|
|Crowd : – 7,773|
|Referee : – Paul Tierney (Lancashire)||Linesmen : – Mr. Lee Betts; Mr. Constantine Haztidakis|
|Fourth official : – Peter Bankes|
|VAR official : – Andre Marriner||VAR Assistant : – Adrian Holmes|
|Weather : – Sunny, dry, mild|
|Manchester City kicked off the first half attacking the West Stand end|
|Playing time : – 90 + 6 minutes
|MANCHESTER CITY||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR|
|Laporte 81m 26s|
|Laporte (foul on Moura) 45||Reguilon (two fouls) 27|
|Fernandinho (foul on Hojbjerg) 59|
|MANCHESTER CITY||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR|
|13.||Zack STEFFEN||1.||Hugo LLORIS (c)|
|2.||Kyle WALKER||24.||Serge AURIER ( 23. Steven BERGWIJN 90)|
|3.||Ruben DIAS||4.||Toby ALDERWEIRELD|
|14.||Aymeric LAPORTE||15.||Eric DIER|
|27.||Joao CANCELO||3.||Sergio REGUILON|
|8.||Ilkay GUNDOGAN||5.||Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG ( 20. DELE Alli 84)|
|25.||FERNANDINHO (c) ( 16. RODRI 84)||8.||Harry WINKS|
|17.||Kevin de BRUYNE ( 20. Bernardo SILVA 87)|
|27.||Lucas MOURA ( 9. Gareth BALE 67)|
|26.||Riyad MAHREZ||18.||Giovani LO CELSO ( 17. Moussa SISSOKO 67)|
|7.||Raheem STERLING||7.||Heung-Min SON|
|11.||Oleksander ZINCHANKO||6.||Davinson SANCHEZ|
|6.||Nathan AKE||25.||Japhet TANGANGA|
|22.||Benjamin MENDY||28.||Tanguy NDOMBELE|
|21.||Ferran TORRES||11.||Erik LAMELA|
|Manager : – Pep Guardiola||Manager : – Ryan Mason|
|Kit Supplier : – Puma||Kit Supplier : – Nike|
|Shirt Sponsor : – Etihad Airways||Shirt Sponsor : – AIA
|Colours : –||Colours : –|
|Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website|
Manchester City took the League Cup with a 1-0 win over Spurs in what was a match where Tottenham rarely got into the action. A late goal by Laporte, who was perhaps fortunate to still be on the pitch, doomed Spurs to another unsuccessful final.
As the game kicked off, Spurs dropped into a 4-3-3 formation from the usual 4-2-3-1, with City playing a 3-3-4 line-up in front of 2,000 fans from either club and some local Council workers and NHS Staff in the main stand, with the Spurs fans stationed in the sunshine.
Son played a loose pass inside the first five minutes straight to Raheem Sterling and only a good foot in by Serge Aurier in the box prevented the City striker getting a shot away. Cancelo then left Hojbjerg for dead and Sterling turned Aurier tight to the line, putting in a low cross that Foden turned wide from close range at the near post. Sterling was lively and put a header wide as Spurs were being pinned back into their own defensive third. Luckily for Spurs in this period, City’s passing was often too heavy for the player it was intended for and ran away from them, but the chasing that Spurs were being given might have repercussions later in the game.
Sterling was denied by Dier’s block when the ball was on its way in after Spurs were caught out by a quick throw-in and Foden’s low pull back. In the 19th minute, Spurs got into attack and Aurier’s cross was headed away for a corner, which came back in on the third phase and Toby Alderweireld dragged his shot wide from outside the box. Tottenham weren’t pressing that hard but looked content to drop back with as many men behind the ball as they could get. With no pressure on the City defence, they were able to play the ball out with ease.
Kevin de Bruyne won a free-kick when Lo Celso pushed him in the back five yards outside the box and when it was taken, the Belgian only found Harry Kane’s head in the wall. Another free-kick caused a bit of protest when Moura took the ball off Laporte as he dithered and then got pulled back when he was away but as the Frenchman was in his own half, the ref only had a word.
City almost opened the scoring when Dier gave the ball away on our left and the ball came in, with Alderweireld cutting it out before it reached Sterling, but it only fell for Foden, who rasped in a shot that Toby blocked again, putting it wide off the post. Ironically, when Reguilon committed his second foul, the referee was happy to pull out a yellow card. Even more ironically, when Dias took Kane from behind and seemed to win the ball, a free-kick was given and again no booking followed.
A ball slid down the left side of the are sent Sterling free behind Aurier to beat Lloris to the ball and he lifted it over the keeper, but it drifted wide of the far post. There was a quiet few minutes, with Spurs keeping City at bay before Mahrez took on Reguilon in the area and then fizzed a left foot effort that went a foot wide of the far post and then the Algerian fired a shot over the top from 22 yards out. A rare venture into the opposition half saw Aurier have a cross blocked, but the ball was soon heading backwards until Alderweireld’s long pass to Son ended in a corner. Lo Celso played it low into the near post where it was cleared and then Gio tried a pass to Moura, but it was a risky one and suddenly City were moving in the opposite direction. A 50-yard pass from de Bruyne almost picked out Sterling running in behind Dier, but the ball was luckily just a little too long for the England striker to make contact with. Contact with was what Laporte made for the second time when Moura burst through three light blue shirts and it brought his first yellow card, when it should have been a second followed by a red. The free-kick came to nothing, so the City defender had done his job and lo and behold, it led to a City attack that Lloris did well to turn Cancelo’s shot round his right-hand post.
In trying to avoid getting thrashed and maybe trying to copy Chelsea’s successful tactics in last week’s FA Cup semi-final, Spurs failed to recognise that City were going to turn up this week and with no out ball, the Spurs defence was under growing pressure. The only two dangerous moments were when Moura won the ball off a City player and ran at them. It was clear that Laporte was struggling with anyone running at him, so perhaps that might have a bearing on how we played in the second half. The Spaniard does struggle when playing against Tottenham and it was something that I hoped that the management team had picked up on.
From the restart Spurs looked a lot more offensive and Lo Celso tried to curl a left foot shot inside the keeper’s right-hand post, but Steffen just got down to it and push it wide. The corner wasn’t that well dealt with by the keeper and City were lucky that it dropped behind Dier, but they broke away to build a move that was only stopped when de Bruyne followed through with a shot, kicking Reguilon on the shin.
When City broke after winning the ball on the edge of their own box, Mahrez tried to beat defenders one too many times and Dier did well to take the sting out of the shot when it eventually came. Sterling then tried a curling shot that went a yard wide and when Aurier lost the ball to Sterling, it gave him a run on goal from the City left, but Serge got back to tip the ball away.
Chances were still coming for Manchester City and Gundogan headed over from a few yards out. It was a counterattack led by Harry Kane that relieved the pressure and he played it to Hojbjerg in the area on the left, but he looked for Reguilon over-lapping him, but the pass wasn’t weighted well enough and ran off the pitch. Kane had been clattered by Dias after the ball had been played and stayed down but regained his feet after a quick rub of the knee.
Serge showed a good bit of aggression winning the ball off Sterling, leaving him on the floor begging for a foul as Spurs broke away. In the 67th minute, Moura left the pitch along with Gio to be replaced by Gareth Bale and Moussa Sissoko. Fernandinho put a header straight at Hugo at the far post, when de Bruyne whipped a long high ball from the right and Gundogan volleyed a little pass from Sterling on a breakaway, but it was well wide. Mahrez looked like he had a good chance when he ran from the hallway line and the Spurs defenders forced him infield, where he let fly with a left footed shot that Hugo dived to his right to push wide.
Tottenham hadn’t had an attack in a while and while they were able to pass it around at the back, going forward they were failing to find the green shirts, but City were over-hitting passes too and the game got a bit ragged. Walker got away with treading on Reguilon’s ankle which the referee missed, but Tierney don’t have the greatest of games in his first cup final.
With just under 15 minutes left, Tottenham started to sit deep and while they had a chance to break, Kane dwelt on the ball too long and allowed plenty of light blue shirts to get back. A foul by Aurier wide on City’s left gave de Bruyne a chance to play a cross in that Laporte got on the end of. Jumping against Sissoko, the City defender had a run on the cross and beat Reguilon at the foot of the far post.
Toby made another good block when de Bruyne ran at the Spurs penalty area and shot, as did Sterling, who was also blocked.
Going into added time, Bergwijn came on for Aurier and Mason switched to three at the back, but systems mean little if you can’t get hold of the ball and hold onto it when you do. City had the ball in the net in added time, but Foden was well offside and the “goal” was ruled out.
Serge had played alright, but the one occasion he needed to stand Sterling up, rather than dive in, he made the wrong choice. The goal wasn’t all his fault, as Moussa failed to make a decent challenge on the goal-scorer (who perhaps shouldn’t have been on the pitch) and despite being battered, we had thwarted City until eight minutes from the end.
There was little joined up play by Spurs and the result was a fair one, but it was against City playing at their best. Their finishing might not have been great, but it wasn’t the same performance that allowed Chelsea to beat them last week, when they were poor.
I suppose there was nothing to lose for Spurs, as few people thought we would win and for Ryan Mason, the chance to be an instant hero, but it was a display reminiscent of the later Mourinho days. City pushed Spurs back, but the idea seemed to be to soak it up, but without even looking to hit back on the break during the first half.
In the end, it was a Spurs performance that was a lot of nothing. Kane didn’t look 100%. Sonny was distraught at the end. Hojbjerg was out on his feet and ironically, Serge had done alright until he dived in to give away the free-kick the goal came from. Toby and Dier were good all game and Moura was always a threat that caused City to commit cynical fouls.
Marco van Hip