All the goals came in the first half and City went into a two-goal lead through Sergio Aguero and Rodri, before Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta’s header reduced the arrears.
City held on in the second half and had Claudio Bravo to thank for preserving this lead as he produced an excellent save to keep out Bjorn Engles’ header.
Manchester City Win Carabao Cup for Third Straight Year
Villa made three changes from their last outing, a 2-0 Premier League defeat away at Southampton. Orjan Nyland, the regular goalkeeper in the competition this season, came in to replace Pepe Reina, who has impressed since joining on loan from AC Milan. As well, defenders Bjorn Engles and Ahmed Elmohamady came back into the side.
City, meanwhile, made a host of changes have come from behind to beat Real Madrid in the week. Manager Pep Guardiola made eight alterations in total, with the most surprising being Kevin De Bruyne’s inclusion on the bench. Sergio Aguero returned to replace Gabriel Jesus up front while Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho also came back in.
Villa Start on the Front Foot But City Soon Show Quality
City romped to a 6-1 win at Villa Park when these two met in the league in January. However, in the early stages at Wembley, there were no traces of that mauling. Dean Smith’s side started firmly on the front foot, pegging City back and putting them under waves of pressure.
Despite regularly attacking down the wings, Villa could only muster one real chance from their good start as Anwar El Ghazi leapt highest in the area to head a cross onto the roof of the net.
The game then settled into a more familiar routine of City doing all the pressing and Villa sitting back and doing all the defending. Wave after wave came from the City attack, and they eventually broke through when Rodri’s cross was headed by across goal by Phil Foden and Aguero volleyed home by way of a deflection off Tyrone Mings.
Guardiola’s side continued with their relentless attack and despite Mings getting in the way of a Raheem Sterling effort, they soon had a second – although replays show they should not have.
Jack Grealish, who barely had an effect on the game overall, got back well to defend against Rodri and appeared to have won his side a goal kick. The linesman instead, though, flagged for a corner, and from the delivery, Rodri got away from Frederic Guilbert and powered home his header.
Samatta Steps Up in Carabao Cup
At 2-0, most will have expected the game to be formality for City. After all, they have won this competition in the last two editions and Villa, in reality, have far bigger things than a cup final to worry about given their league position.
They gave themselves a chance shortly before the break, though, profiting from a poor John Stones error. The England international slipped as Grealish played the ball forward to El Ghazi, allowing the ball through to the Dutchman. He then crossed for Mbwana Samatta to crash a header past Claudio Bravo and halve the deficit going into the break.
City Control But Carabao Cup Final Stays Tight
The second half followed largely the same patterns as the first, with City pressing relentlessly and Villa allowing their opponents to dictate the play. However, there was far less potency in front of goal from City as might have been expected, meaning that Villa were always left with a hope that they could provide a shock.
They could have done late on, too. As expected, Villa pushed up more and more with the clock ticking down, and their only major effort of the half was perhaps the closest either came to scoring in the second period. Engles got his head to a corner and it looked for all the word to be heading in, but Bravo, so often the villain for City with his high-profile errors, produced an excellent save to tip it onto the post before Stones hacked clear.
Although Villa maintained the late pressure, City deserved the win overall and continued their stronghold on the Carabao Cup with a third successive acquisition of the trophy.