Manchester City won their first silverware of the season after coming from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 at Wembley. City went into the game as the overwhelming favorites with the possibility of a quadruple for the club. Even if they – as expected – fail to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Barcelona in the Champions League, the domestic treble is a very real possibility.
But it was Sunderland that took an early lead in the Capital One Cup Final. As the Black Cats countered, Liverpool loanee Fabio Borini managed to get goal side of City skipper Vincent Kompany and dispatch a smart finish into the far corner beyond the reach of Costel Pantilimon.
The goal sent the Sunderland fans into delirium as they began to dream of winning the trophy for the first time. Gus Poyet’s well drilled side defended from the front with a high intensity that disrupted City’s game and Sunderland went into half time 1-0 up.
Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City knew that they had to turn this around to avoid a second successive Wembley embarrassment following the FA Cup final defeat to Wigan last May.
And it didn’t take them long for their superior quality to shine through. With full-backs Alexander Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta rushing forward to join the attacks and play-makers Samir Nasri and David Silva trying to unlock the Sunderland defense, City were looking increasingly dangerous.
But it took a moment of brilliance from Yaya Touré on the 55th minute to equalize. The Ivorian collected Zabaleta’s pass and – almost effortlessly – hit a powerful drive beyond goalkeeper Vito Mannone and into the top corner.
With that, the entire mood inside Wembley changed and the crowd sensed a turnaround would be completed by Toure & co. And they didn’t have to wait long, with another excellent goal making it 2-1 just a minute later. Kolarov played a low cross and a deflection took it into the path of Samir Nasri, who expertly found the corner with the outside of his foot. The former Arsenal man’s goal sent City fans into raptures and Sunderland’s performance was undone.
As the Black Cats desperately searched for an equalizer, City were able to stretch the Sunderland defense more and more and eventually found a third to wrap the game up. Jesus Navas scored the goal to confirm the victory in injury time – slotting in at the near post following a through ball from Toure. This came after Sunderland forward Steven Fletcher had wasted a great opportunity to equalize at the other end, but Spain winger Navas’ goal wrapped things up and every City player mobbed him to celebrate in front of the City fans.
It is Pellegrini’s first trophy as City boss and now he is targeting the domestic treble, with Wigan coming up in the quarter finals of the FA Cup and 12 games left in the Premier League, two more than their rivals. They are six points behind leaders Chelsea but with a superior goal difference. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho himself insisted that the West Londoners’ lead is “fake” as City will be top if they win their games in hand. And if the club could win their second Premier League title and the FA Cup to add to the success over Sunderland, they would be the first English team to win the domestic treble.
It isn’t impossible either, with City the favorites for both trophies. Captain Vincent Kompany insists the team should be “hungry” for more success. City shouldn’t be ruled out of winning all three trophies, and with their squad, they may be the team to fear for many seasons to come with Pellegrini at the helm.