Late heartbreak in Carabao Cup Final - match report and debrief
Manchester City 1-0 Spurs
Sun 25 April 2021, 18:32|Tottenham Hotspur
Aymeric Laporte's goal with just eight minutes remaining denied us Carabao Cup Final success as Manchester City took the honours at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
While Pep Guardiola’s side were the dominant team throughout the game, we stuck to our task and kept the scores level until the closing stages, when Laporte headed a free-kick past the excellent Hugo Lloris to settle the match and give City their fourth successive League Cup triumph.
Interim Head Coach Ryan Mason led us into the match in just his second game in the role, having played alongside a number of the players he selected in the 2015 Final but, despite his best efforts, we couldn’t create enough in front of goal and couldn’t find a way back into it after Laporte’s opener.
It was a tough first half as we were very much on the back foot with City dominating in their usual style, creating 10 attempts at goal although only one was on target. That they weren’t ahead was down to a couple of outstanding blocks – Eric Dier denying Raheem Sterling and the superb Toby Alderweireld somehow deflecting Phil Foden’s close-range shot onto the post. Riyad Mahrez curled wide twice in quick succession as City continued to create, the half ending with Joao Cancelo’s 22-yard curling shot needing a fine save from Lloris to keep the scores level.
Our solitary shot at goal in that first period came when Alderweireld dragged wide on 20 minutes, but just two minutes after the restart, Giovani Lo Celso brought a smart save out of Zack Steffen, diving to his right to push the ball away for a corner. That was the signal for a much better second-half display from us and a much more evenly-matched contest, as we got into more forward positions although there were very few genuine chances of note for either side in the first 25 minutes of the half.
Guardiola’s team did then fashion a few opportunities, the best coming via Mahrez following a counter down their right but Lloris was at full-stretch to tip away the winger’s left-foot effort. Then came the opening goal on 82 minutes. Serge Aurier fouled Sterling close to the byline out on the left, Kevin De Bruyne delivered the free-kick and Laporte climbed highest to head into the bottom corner. De Bruyne almost added a second shortly after but another magnificent block from Alderweireld kept it to a single goal deficit, and that was the way it ended in front of 7,773 supporters at the national stadium.
Laporte finds a way
While City deservedly lifted the trophy following their commanding performance, there was certainly an element of controversy over Laporte’s winning goal. The Sky Blues had us pegged back for much of the first half, but when Lucas Moura picked the ball up mid-way inside our half on 24 minutes and looked to launch a counter, Laporte’s trip halted his progress. It seemed a certain yellow card but referee Paul Tierney chose not to book the City defender. There was a touch of confusion as the TV coverage flashed up that he had indeed been booked, but that wasn’t the case.
So when the same two players were involved in an almost identical situation just before half-time, the yellow card awarded to Laporte this time might well have been his second and seen him dismissed. Instead, he was able to continue and ended up being the match-winner.
Once we reached half-time with the game still goalless, we felt we had a chance to push on in the second period and had spells of possession in dangerous area, without managing to carve out that one chance we needed. City goalkeeper Steffen was forced into just the one save, a decent one too as he had to be alert to tip away Lo Celso’s effort early in the second half and from the resulting corner, the ball just wouldn’t drop to one of our green shirts as it bounced around in the area.
The longer the game went on, the more it was going to be one moment from either side which was going to win the trophy, but unfortunately that moment fell to City and Laporte.
A ninth final
Both teams were featuring in their ninth League Cup Final. We had previously won four (1971, 1973, 1999, 2008) and lost four, while Manchester City had won seven, losing just once. This was also City’s first win against us in the League Cup, as we had won the three previous meetings in 1992/93, 2003/04 and 2007/08.
Ryan Mason made two changes to the starting XI from the side which beat Southampton in midweek in his first game in charge, as Harry Kane and Harry Winks came into the team in place of Gareth Bale and Tanguy Ndombele, Bale featuring off the bench in the second half.
Reaction on Spurs TV
'The players believed and they gave absolutely everything'
Interim Head Coach Ryan told Spurs TV after the game at Wembley: "It was difficult. I thought we rode our luck at times in the first half but defended well, blocked well, but we knew at times we’d have to ride our luck and they’d have long spells of possession. The players believed and they gave absolutely everything. They believed in how we wanted to work.
"In the second half we had a couple of moments, produced a great save from their goalkeeper, had a couple of set-plays and openings... could something have happened? They also had a couple of opportunities in the second half but I didn’t feel we were in any danger and as the game went on, we started to have longer spells of possession and I thought we were coming into it a bit. It was disappointing to concede from a set-play, but I can’t fault the players one bit, they gave absolutely everything. I have so much pride in those players."
Manchester City 1-0 Spurs
Manchester City (4-3-3): Steffen, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Gundogan, Fernandinho (c) (Rodrigo 83), De Bruyne (Bernardo 87), Mahrez, Sterling, Foden. Substitutes (not used): Ederson, Ake, Jesus, Aguero, Zinchenko, Torres, Mendy.
Spurs (4-3-3): Lloris (c), Aurier (Bergwijn 90), Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon, Hojbjerg (Dele 84), Winks, Lo Celso (Sissoko 67), Lucas (Bale 67), Kane, Son. Substitutes (not used): Hart, Sanchez, Tanganga, Ndombele, Lamela.
Goal: Manchester City – Laporte 82.
Yellow cards: Manchester City – Laporte, Fernandinho; Spurs - Reguilon.
Referee: Paul Tierney.
Venue: Wembley Stadium.
Weather: Partly cloudy, moderate breeze, 12 degrees.