By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
Manchester City have won the Carabao Cup for a record-equalling eighth time after beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 to lift the trophy for the fourth consecutive year.
Aymeric Laporte was City’s hero, heading home from Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick in the 82nd minute to give Pep Guardiola’s side a thoroughly deserved victory, which sees City move level with Liverpool as the most successful side in the competition’s history.
With 8,000 supporters in attendance – the most at any game in England since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – Guardiola’s men rose to the occasion at Wembley Stadium, where the win was made all the sweeter by the sight of 2,000 City fans celebrating at full-time.
Whilst City had to wait to break the deadlock, on the balance of play the result was never in doubt and the most surprising aspect of the contest was that the defending champions had to wait until the final 10 minutes for a goal.
But for some heroic last-ditch defending and several missed opportunities, Guardiola’s side would have been out of sight at half-time.
Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden were both denied by goal-saving blocks from Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld, with the former sticking a leg out to deny Sterling after good work down the left from Foden, who later saw his snapshot turned onto the post by the Belgian after De Bruyne’s cross fell kindly for him in the six-yard box.
Spurs survived wave after wave of attack in the first half, with a Sterling chip bouncing agonisingly wide, whilst Riyad Mahrez twice went close with trademark curling efforts.
Ryan Mason’s side provided a sterner test after the break, but it was not enough to turn the tide.
Giovani Lo Celso forced Zack Steffen into his only save shortly after the restart and, whilst they made life more difficult for City in attack, that solitary effort was as good as it got for the North London outfit.
City, however, continued to probe, with Fernandinho’s header forcing a save from Lloris and Gundogan sending one of his own over the bar, whilst a weaving run and shot from Mahrez forced a smart save from the Frenchman.
As the clock ticked down, the boys in blue could have been forgiven for thinking all this would come back to haunt them, but their patience was rewarded in emphatic style as Laporte towered above Moussa Sissoko and planted a header into the far corner to spark wild celebrations at the City end.