Liverpool lost the chance to claim their first trophy under Jurgen Klopp as they missed three penalties in a painful shoot-out, after pegging back Manchester City to a 1-1 draw in the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley.
Willy Caballero was City’s hero as he saved spot-kicks by Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, before Yaya Toure stepped up to fire home the decisive effort and send the League Cup trophy to Manchester.
City were perhaps worthy winners on the balance of play before the 3-1 penalties verdict, but they were made to work hard for their victory after Coutinho’s late strike cancelled out Fernandinho’s opener to take the final to extra-time.
The first half was something of a disappointment, with both sides appearing cagey in possession and seemingly employing mirrored tactics that did little but cancel each other out.
The first big chance of the afternoon arrived after 20 minutes when David Silva’s pass scythed open the Liverpool defence to send Sergio Aguero away down the left hand side. The Argentinian skipped past Lucas before Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho inexplicably slipped, allowing Aguero a free shot at goal from 20 yards which Simon Mignolet brilliantly tipped onto the post.
City wasted no time in making their mark on the game after the interval. In the 49th minute a raking pass by David Silva was taken down expertly by Aguero, and the City front man coolly rolled the ball to his right and into the path of the overlapping Fernandinho who fired into the far corner from a tight angle – albeit with a shot that many would have expected Mignolet to save.
Raheem Sterling had golden opportunities to have a decisive say in a high-stakes game against his former employers, Liverpool. Firstly, the Liverpool winger incomprehensibly side-footed wide from all of eight yards after Silva’s right wing cross found him with the goal gaping at his feet.
He again fluffed his lines with a scuffed shot from Aguero’s neat cut-back that rolled harmlessly past Mignolet’s left-hand post.
Liverpool spent much of the second half doing their best to survive the City onslaught, but found themselves level as the game approached the final 10 minutes.
Daniel Sturridge picked up a loose ball on the right wing before firing in a cross to the onrushing Adam Lallana who could only divert his effort onto the post. Fortunately for the Reds, the rebound fell kindly for Coutinho and the Brazilian playmaker hammered home the loose ball from 15 yards.
Both sides went in search of a winner in the minutes that remained and Mignolet – so often the villain this season – made up for his earlier mistake with crucial saves from Fernando, Toure and Aguero late on that helped take the final to extra-time.
When the additional 30 minutes were up, the destination of the Capital One Cup was decided by the hands of former Malaga ‘keeper Caballero.
After Emre Can’s confident ‘Panenka-style’ chip down the middle, Argentinian Caballero produced three fantastic saves from Lucas, Coutinho and Lallana to tilt the balance in City’s favour.
Despite Fernandinho striking the post with City’s first effort, Jesus Navas and Aguero dispatched with aplomb, thus allowing Toure the opportunity to arrow the ball low into Mignolet’s goal and finish off Liverpool.