Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City (aet, 3-4 on penalties)
Manchester City won the EFL Cup with a penalty shootout, after a 120-minute stalemate against a battling Chelsea. But that isn’t the half of it!
After Chelsea performed brilliantly to hold the reigning champions for two hours,
coach Maurizio Sarri prepared to bring on penalty specialist keeper Willy Cabellero. But as Cabellero stripped off, Arrizabalaga refused to leave the field.
It looked like the coach was leaving the stadium but he reappeared to watch his team lose the shootout after the incredible show of disrespect from his keeper.
Well, us football fans, have you ever seen anything like that before? I haven’t.
Poor Sarri was humiliated but for Manchester City, it was the first trophy of the season and the quadruple is still on…just. Thanks to Arrizabalaga.
The EFL Cup betting odds had Pep Guardiola’s side as clear favourites at odds of 1.55 to see the Blues off in 90 minutes. But before the bizarre finale, Sarris’ team regained a lot of pride.
Highlights of the game
Manchester City’s destruction of the Blues in last week’s Premier League game was humiliating for Chelsea, and Sarri’s team started the game intended to make an impression, which Jorginho did on Sergio Aguero with a first-minute marker; but nothing came of the free-kick.
The tackles continued to fly in as Sarri’s midfield five kept chances down to a minimum in the early stages, clearly mindful of their Etihad stuffing. The City fans tried to lift their team, buoyed by the news that title rivals Liverpool had earlier played out a 0-0 draw with Manchester United but Chelsea were determined not to get pushed around by the City slickers.
As the half time break neared Pep Guardiola’s team tried to turn the screw but the Chelsea defence dealt with every ball flying into their box. And the closest we came to a goal was when Nicolas Otamendi almost diverted the ball into his own net from a Chelsea cross.
0-0 at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half Sergio Aguero fired into the Chelsea net but was marginally offside. Chelsea fans had a nervy minute while VAR pondered but the decision stayed with them. Take a look at the EFL Cup highlights…it was a mighty close call.
Then Chelsea had a golden chance to open the scoring on 65 minutes. Eden Hazard made a run in behind Vincent Kompany and crossed for N’Golo Kante who blazed over with the goal at his mercy. Hazard was the heartbeat of Chelsea’s forward play and looked the man most likely to deliver something.
Both sets of fans roared their teams on in search of a winner and Chelsea finished the 90 minutes the better, Ederson tipping over a Willian cross deep into injury time.
It was a surprise to many that new signing Gonzalo Higuain was left on the bench by Sarri having been trumpeted as the man to re-ignite the Blues’ season. And the London fans approved when he came off the bench five minutes into extra-time.
The Sky Blues came so close to grabbing the winner when Raheem Sterling pulled the ball back for Aguero but he couldn’t quite get his shot away and Chelsea scrambled clear. Then, with penalties looming Rudiger slipped to let Aguero in but Arrizabalaga saved.
And then came the biggest drama of all after the shocking refusal of the Chelsea keeper to be substituted.
After Ederson saved Jorginho’s opening penalty Arrizabalaga tried to unsettle Aguero but failed to save his penalty when maybe he should have. Then he did save from Leroy Sane to level.
At 2-2 David Luiz hit the post and Bernardo Silva beat the Chelsea keeper with a cool penalty down the middle.
Eden Hazard chipped a cool one to level but then Raheem Sterling hammered his penalty high into the top left corner.
Manchester City has now won six games on the trot while Chelsea has four defeats in seven.
But the big news is that’s 21 trophies for Pep and the first time City has won this trophy back-to-back.
Chelsea stays in London for the foreseeable future with Premier League games at home to Spurs and then away to Fulham but who knows what’s next for their head coach and their goalkeeper? I’d stay away from Sarri if I was the keeper!
With one trophy in the bag, Pep Guardiola takes his team back to Manchester for a home league fixture against West Ham. And looking further ahead Manchester City are in good shape in the Champions League Round of 16 with a first leg lead of FC Schalke.
It’s looking good for the Sky Blues and stormy for the Blues.
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