Manchester City defeats Chelsea to win EFL Cup as Kepa defies Sarri

There were remarkable scenes at Wembley as Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted but Raheem Sterling hit the winning penalty for City.

Injured Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga would not make way for Willy Caballero in extra time.   -  Getty Images

Raheem Sterling hit the winning penalty as Manchester City retained its EFL Cup crown with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea following a goalless draw that saw Kepa Arrizabalaga incredibly defy under-pressure Maurizio Sarri.

City hammered Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago but Maurizio Sarri's switch of system to use Eden Hazard as a false nine – with Gonzalo Higuain missing out at Wembley on Sunday – boosted his side's defensive solidity.

Remarkably, an injured Kepa would not make way for Willy Caballero in extra time and, although he saved one spot-kick, Sterling converted the decisive effort for City to deny Sarri, reportedly close to the sack, his first trophy as a manager.

 

A controversial start saw Jorginho escape punishment after appearing to elbow Sergio Aguero straight from kick-off before referee Jon Moss gave no foul when Oleksandr Zinchenko's challenge halted the progress of N'Golo Kante as the midfielder ran through on the City goal.

Manchester City retained a major trophy for the first time when it defeated Chelsea in a penalty shootout to lift the EFL Cup.

City began to find its rhythm and Sergio Aguero rifled a shot over the crossbar before his deflected effort was easily claimed by Kepa. The holder thought it had opened the scoring in the 56th minute but Aguero was rightly flagged offside and a VAR check upheld the decision. Kante should have broken the deadlock but, after Hazard's dazzling run deceived City's half-time substitute Vincent Kompany, he blazed the perfect cutback over the crossbar.

 

Aguero and Sterling could not find a finishing touch in an extra-time goalmouth scramble before City's record goalscorer was denied by Kepa. The Blues keeper required treatment twice in the added period but refused to be replaced by Caballero, who saved three penalties for City in the 2016 final, leaving Sarri furious.

Jorginho's tame effort was saved by Ederson to hand Chelsea an immediate advantage, but Kepa denied Leroy Sane and David Luiz hit the post. Hazard's Panenka effort kept Chelsea alive but Sterling crashed his strike in off the crossbar to retain the title for City and keep its quadruple hopes alive.

 

What does it mean? Players buy into Sarri system

Sarri has been wedded to his philosophy of possession above all else but there were signs at Wembley he is willing to compromise. City dominated the ball – as it almost always does – but the Blues mucked in with hard work to deny the Premier League champion space in attack. Sarri also sent on youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek as his first two substitutions in a popular move with fans, but Kepa's refusal to be substituted showed he lacks complete control.

 

Luiz shores up Chelsea defence

Often treated as something of a joke figure by supporters, Luiz produced an outstanding performance in the heart of the Chelsea defence. He was completely dominant in the air.


De Bruyne focus lacking

After missing so much of the season through injury, City's playmaker Kevin De Bruyne lacked his usual sharpness and incision on the ball and he was replaced by winger Sane. De Bruyne overhit a surprising number of passes and crosses, contributing to City's inability to open up the Chelsea defence, while he wasted a 73rd-minute free-kick in an enticing position.


What's next?

City's Premier League title challenge continues on Wednesday with the visit of West Ham. On the same day, Chelsea welcomes Tottenham to Stamford Bridge in a big London derby.