Manchester City 2 West Ham United 0

FA Premier League
Sunday 11 May 2014, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Toure (Negredo 86), Silva (Milner 76), Nasri, Dzeko (Fernandinho 69), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Jovetic
Goals: Nasri (39), Kompany (49)
Booked: Demichelis, Aguero

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Yaya Toure

Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy

Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy

Manchester City are champions of England and have secured their first ever league and cup double. Indeed, victory over West Ham on the final match of the 2013-14 season ensured the Blues took only their second double – the first coming in 1970, when Joe Mercer’s City won the League Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup. Manuel Pellegrini’s City added a top-flight championship to the League Cup.

The home side went into their final match of the campaign knowing that a draw would be enough for them to take the crown – barring any sort of goalscoring miracle at Anfield. Compared to the title win of 2012, the mood inside the stadium was much more relaxed – though there was still the feeling things could go wrong if the Blues weren’t professional.

There was little danger of the team letting this one escape, however, as Pellegrini’s City were always in control of the match and eased to victory. The Manchester weather had been unwelcoming at the start, raining buckets onto an already soaked pitch – though, if anything, it aided the hosts’ slick passing moves.

One of the best moves of the campaign almost finished with a beauty of a goal. Zabaleta, Garcia and Nasri combined to work an opening for the cross from the right, and, as the ball fell to the back post, Silva arrived in time to volley at goal. He caught it sweetly, but got under it slightly too much and it was blasted just over the crossbar.

The home side wanted a penalty two minutes later as Zabaleta appeared to be felled by Diame inside the box, but the referee waved play on. He trod on the defender’s leg and tripped him up – the West Ham man was lucky.

Aguero had his first shot of the game, but he slipped in unleashing the long range effort and it went straight at the goalkeeper. That’s as news came through the Newcastle had taken the lead at Anfield and that the unlikely wasn’t happening in Liverpool. As the fans were settling down to the positive news from Merseyside, Kolarov blasted from long range, too – Adrian tipped his 40-yard effort over the bar.

Zabaleta in a tackle with Taylor.

Zabaleta in a tackle with Taylor.

As it looked like the Blues might end up being level with their visitors at half time, Nasri came up with a cracking strike to break the deadlock. He picked up the ball on the edge of the West Ham box and, after knocking it out of his feet, belted if for the bottom corner. Adrian got his fingers to it, but couldn’t redirect it enough – tipping it onto the post and into the net.

And it could have been two on two occasions going into the break. First, Aguero deflected Nasri’s free kick across the face of goal and the diving Kompany couldn’t reach to touch over the line, before, second, Silva’s deflected effort crashed into the crossbar. The Spaniard wriggled free inside the box and shot for the far post, but it deflected up off a defender in front of him, hit the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.

Early in the second, the home side doubled their advantage: a corner to the near post was half headed away by the visiting defence and half knocked down by Dzeko. Waiting was the captain and Kompany turned to belt the ball past Adrian and into the back of the net.

City were sensing the kill was on the cards. Nasri stung the goalkeeper’s gloves with another long range effort, Aguero tried to angle a header into the top corner but just got slightly too much elevation on the effort, while the Argentine should have scored with just over 20 minutes to play. A low cross from Zabaleta picked out the striker, but he couldn’t adjust his feet quickly enough to turn it into the empty net.

The result never looked in doubt in truth and, with just over 10 minutes to play, the Blues almost had their third. Toure chipped a cute ball over the static Hammers’ back line for Nasri or Zabaleta to run on to. The Frenchman took control and smashed his shot for goal, but Adrian got his foot in the way to keep it out.

In the end, the Blues weren’t able to get their third goal and they finished the season with a solid, professional and comfortable 2-0 win. It was more than enough for the club to lift their second ever Premier League title.

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Manchester City 4 Aston Villa 0

FA Premier League
Wednesday 7 May 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Toure, Milner (Jovetic 60), Silva (Fernandinho 76), Nasri, Dzeko (Negredo 86)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy
Goals: Dzeko (64, 72), Jovetic (89), Toure (90+3)
Booked: Jovetic

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Stevan Jovetic

Dzeko celebrates the opening goal.

Dzeko celebrates the opening goal.

Manchester City are a point away from their second Premier League title, following a comprehensive win over Aston Villa at a very rainy Etihad. It was a nervy atmosphere until Dzeko opened the scoring in the second half, when it seemed to lift a weight from the fans’ shoulders – and, to round of a good evening, Toure bagged the Blues’ century of league goals too.

The rain pounded down onto the pitch and it added an extra layer of drama and tension to proceedings – which could have been calmed inside five minutes, as Kolarov tested Guzan at his near post. The goalkeeper parried it away and began a frantic five minutes for his side that saw Kompany head just over the bar and Guzan block with his left foot to deny Toure.

Silva came close to stealing in ahead of the Villa goalkeeper, when Guzan let a Kolarov cross slip from his grasp. The American goalkeeper, however, managed to dive on the loose ball before the Spaniard could prod it into the goal. Nasri wasn’t too far away from opening the scoring, too, as he exchanged a one-two with Silva on the corner of the box, but his effort didn’t bend enough and sailed wide.

It could have been even less comfortable for the home fans mid-way through the first half. First, a cross from the left found Bowery unmarked in the box and he couldn’t connect well enough to trouble Hart – scuffing his half-volley into the side netting. Then, a City corner broke down and left Zabaleta one-on-one with Weimann. The Argentine slowed the forward down and forced him to shoot wide when he should have tested the goalkeeper.

City, however, should have gone in at half time in the lead. Zabaleta could have had a shot on goal, but instead chose to square for Silva – the Spaniard’s effort was blocked after his first touch got away from him a little. And then Nasri somehow prodded wide from a Milner cross into the box, after Guzan had come and been found wanting.

Nasri comes under pressure.

Nasri comes under pressure.

Early in the second half, the breakthrough almost came in spectacular style from the captain. A ball into the box was cleared, but Silva returned it quickly with a header and the Villa defence hadn’t pushed out far enough. Kompany tried a bicycle kick to turn the ball towards goal, but he couldn’t direct it away from Guzan, who was able to hold at the second attempt.

Ten minutes into the half, Kolarov had a free kick pushed away from goal, as he curled it towards the top corner from 30 yards. It had clearly been frustrating for the players, too – as there were long discussions between the left back and Toure over who would get to have the strike at goal.

Pellegrini introduced Jovetic to try and add a new dimension to the game and, just four minutes after the Montenegrin was introduced, the Blues took the lead. It had been coming – a cute ball through to Zabaleta on the right allowed him to drive a low cross into the box, where Dzeko was arrived to nutmeg Guzan. The Etihad erupted.

A few minutes later, the same combination created another City goal. Zabaleta was played in by Silva and the defender drove the ball into the box once more. This time it was for Nasri, whose shot was well saved by Guzan, but the goalkeeper was helpless as Dzeko touched the rebound into the empty net.

The visitors came inches away from pulling a goal back with eight minutes to play, as a free kick from the right caused City all kinds of problems. A ball to the back post saw Hart go wandering to try and collect, but it was nodded back across and – with the goalkeeper out of position – it looked like a simple task for Weimann to head home. He hit the bar, with the ball bouncing down onto the line and out – and the Goal Decision System said it wasn’t in.

The game was sealed with two minutes to play. Toure looked like he’d spent too much time inside the Villa box with the ball and hadn’t found room for the shot, as he jinked inside and outside the tight defence, but the Ivorian found Jovetic arriving late from the left. The Montenegrin hit it first time straight into the bottom corner.

However, in stoppage time, Toure rounded off the win with City’s 100th league goal of the season. It was a typical Toure move, as the midfielder picked up the ball midway inside his own half and – as the furthest home player forward – drove towards goal. He couldn’t be stopped by any of the four Villa defenders trying to keep pace with him and, one-on-one with Guzan, he blasted it into the net.

The win put City back on top of the table and a point against West Ham on Sunday will be enough to clinch the title. It’s City’s to lose.

Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 27 April 2014, 16.10 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Milner, Garcia, Toure (Fernandinho 66), Nasri, Dzeko (Negredo 88), Aguero (Jovetic 78)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy
Goals: Dzeko (4), Toure (43)
Booked: Zabaleta

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Javi Garcia

Zabaleta crunches into a challenge.

Zabaleta crunches into a challenge.

What a funny old game football can be. After a defeat to Liverpool and a draw with Sunderland, the title was but a pipe dream for City fans – but after Chelsea’s win at Anfield and the Blues’ visit to Crystal Palace, it’s now back in their own hands.

As has been a feature of City’s games, it was them who made the brighter start – and had an early goal to match. Aguero was close to getting in behind, while a Zabaleta low cross was cut out, before the ball fell to Toure on the edge of the box. He crossed well for Dzeko, who had slipped in between the two central defenders, and his header powered past the goalkeeper.

The visitors were almost in again a moment later, as a short backpass was intercepted by Aguero as Speroni came to close down the angle. The Argentine was forced wide and couldn’t find the gap through to goal – in the end the goalkeeper managed to get the ball behind.

With just over 20 minutes gone, City were close to doubling their lead. First, Zabaleta got in behind on a floated ball by Toure, but he couldn’t generate power on his header, so chose to square for Aguero. It wouldn’t sit up for him to shoot, though, and, as it came out to Milner, the cross was deflected behind. Kompany’s free header from the corner was a just wide from six yards.

City wanted a penalty with 10 minutes of the half to play, but it would have been harsh: Toure’s shot from the edge of the box was blasted towards goal and it caught Delaney on the arm in front of his chest. He was close to the shot, though, and the referee rightly played on.

As half time approached, City doubled their lead. A one-two between Toure and Nasri sent the Ivorian clean through. He took a bad first touch and got the ball caught under his feet, but had the awareness and strength to power through and knock it back onto his left foot inside. As the goalkeeper came out, he curled it into the top corner on his weaker foot.

Milner battles to win back possession.

Milner battles to win back possession.

City came out for the second half sloppily – the hosts had the initiative from the off and, in the first minute, forced Hart into his first save of the match. Puncheon fired an effort from the edge of the box that might have crept it and, being unsure, the goalkeeper touched it behind. He was then off his line quickly to punch the resulting corner clear.

A marauding run from Toure down the right, after he was set free by Dzeko in the centre of midfield, came close to picking out Aguero in the middle as he’d powered his way down the flank. He tried to cross low, but it was cut out by Dann en route to the Argentine.

With 20 minutes to play, Aguero went close with an outside-of-the-foot shot from inside the box on a quick breakaway – Milner fed it back inside and allowed the striker to get a shot in. Dzeko went close from the other corner of the box a moment later, as his effort took a deflection and almost sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Speroni, though, was able to stick out a foot to make the save.

The hosts tried to pile pressure on the City goal in the closing stages, but the visitors were firm in defence, with little getting through to Hart. It was a vital three points for Pellegrini’s men, who can now take the title should they win all three of their remaining games.

Manchester City 4 Southampton 1

FA Premier League
Saturday 5 April 2014, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho (Garcia 45), Toure, Nasri, Silva (Jovetic 77), Navas, Dzeko (Negredo 65)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Milner
Goals: Toure (pen 3), Nasri (45+1), Dzeko (45+4), Jovetic (81)
Booked: Fernandinho, Garcia, Toure

Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: David Silva

Dzeko competes with Lallana for possession.

Dzeko competes with Lallana for possession.

City had to ride their luck at times against a good Southampton side, but the home team did enough to emerge victors ahead of a tough fixture with Liverpool in the title run-in. The Saints will rue the first half stoppage time, where most of the damage was done, when they had a firm grip on the match before it.

It started well for City – who were gifted the chance to open the scoring from the spot. Dzeko went down very easily under the challenge of Fonte. The forward jinked past the defender, whose trailing leg brushed against the Bosnian’s stomach and, when the striker hit the deck, the referee pointed to the spot. Toure did the rest, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

From there, though, City just did not impose themselves on the match. Nasri had an effort from the edge of the box that dropped just wide, but it was the visitors who had the better of the ball – even though they failed to work Hart. Lambert couldn’t connect to a corner when he rose highest in the box, before the England hopeful curled a free kick wide of Hart’s post.

Rodriguez will fear for his England place following an incident mid-way through the first half, too. The striker tried to bring the ball down just inside the City half and, under no pressure, went down holding his knee – leaving the action early, on a stretcher, to a standing ovation.

Dzeko came close to doubling City’s lead with a free header at the back post, but he nodded Nasri’s free kick onto the bar and over. It could have been a costly miss – as Zabaleta brought down Cork inside the home side’s box moments later and Lamber scored the resulting penalty. Hart guessed correctly, but there was too much power on the spot kick and it hit the back of the net.

As the board went up for stoppage time, though, a below-par City put themselves into an almost unassailable position. First, a stroke of good luck: Silva was clearly offside from Dzeko’s flick, but the linesman didn’t raise his flag. The Spaniard weaved his way through and squared for Nasri to slot into the net.

Dzeko adds City's third goal.

Dzeko adds City’s third goal.

Then, as the fans were readying themselves for a 2-1 lead going into the second half, Dzeko added the Blues’ third. A good spell of possession ended with Kolarov picking up the ball on the left and firing in a good cross for the Bosnian. Gazzaninga came for it, but missed, and Dzeko redirected it over the line, via the back post.

The second half, though, was a completely different story. The introduction of Garcia allowed City to see more possession and they began to look good for their lead – Silva was frustrated the referee didn’t play advantage when he pulled back with one man between him and the goal, before Kolarov had a shot deflected behind for a corner.

On the hour mark, Dzeko should have netted his second. He was played through by Silva and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. From a tight angle, he forced Gazzaniga into a good save and, despite being on his stronger foot, he couldn’t volley the rebound in – it actually went out for a throw-in.

Quite how Negredo didn’t score is a question City fans will be asking too – first, he was played through by Navas, but chose to check back inside his defender instead of taking on the shot and lost possession, before second, he hit the goalkeeper on a one-on-one on his left foot.

However, the missed chances didn’t matter as, with just under ten minutes to play, the Blues added their fourth: A low cross from the right flank was inches away from Negredo, but the Spaniard couldn’t touch it towards goal. Gazzaniga came, but missed it, and Jovetic was arriving in time to touch it into the goal at the back post.

It was a confident second half from City, though the scoreline was very harsh on the Saints. City in a good vein of form ahead of that huge game at Anfield up next.

Manchester United 0 Manchester City 3

FA Premier League
Tuesday 25 March 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner 74), Silva, Navas (Garcia 68), Dzeko (Negredo 80)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Jovetic
Goals: Dzeko (1, 56), Toure (90)
Booked: Kompany, Fernandinho

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Fernandinho

Silva wriggles past Rafael.

Silva wriggles past Rafael.

City made the quickest start to the derby… opening the scoring inside 45 seconds. With the first attack of the game, the Blues almost netted twice before Dzeko eventually put the ball over the line – Silva was slipped in brilliantly by Toure, but was tackled by Rafael. The ball was played back in to Nasri on the left, whose effort left De Gea standing and struck the post, with the rebound hitting Dzeko and going in.

With the 20 minute mark approaching, City should have doubled their lead. Pressure on Ferdinand meant a bad back-pass to De Gea, whose clearance fell to Toure. He knocked it through to Silva who was onside and he squared for Dzeko one-on-one. The Bosnian, though, could only find the gloves of the United goalkeeper.

Five minutes later, Fellaini should have equalised. He found himself unmarked at the back post on a United breakaway, following a quick throw-in from Rooney. It was flicked to the Belgian, but his volley was straight at Hart, who held on to the effort well. The Belgian was then lucky to stay on the pitch after only receiving a yellow card for an elbow on Zabaleta.

Mata missed a golden opportunity to pull the hosts level on 40 minutes, following a fresh-air shot by Rooney. The low cross into the box was missed by the striker and fell to the Spaniard’s feet just inside the area. His effort, on his right foot, flashed over Hart’s crossbar.

City could – perhaps should – have doubled their lead early in the second half. Dzeko found space on the left to shoot, but it was well blocked by Ferdinand, before a cross was cleared as far as Zabaleta on the edge of the box. He volleyed it, but it was deflected behind by Carrick. Dzeko won the header from the corner, but he couldn’t find the target, while a near post corner was won by Kompany, but Fernandinho couldn’t turn the defender’s flick into the net.

Nasri fends off Cleverley

Nasri fends off Cleverley

Ten minutes into the half, though, the Blues did double their lead. A near post corner was missed by the front runner in Demichelis, but it fell nicely to the Bosnian to turn in around the corner with his right foot. It was a cute finish, cool and controlled.

United could have pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to play, as Demichelis gave the ball away trying to play from the back. It fell to Valencia to cross and Welbeck turned it towards goal, but a reaction save from Hart kept it out. The Argentine defender recovered to head clear.

With seconds to go before the fourth official showed the board for stoppage time, City sealed the win. A perfect breakaway from Milner allowed Toure to find space on the edge of the box and, when the Englishman knocked it square, the Ivorian took a touch to control and then belted it into the bottom corner. City were in control from first whistle to last and three goals could have been more.

It was one of City’s games in hand over Chelsea and one they won in emphatic style, racking up a record-breaking fifth consecutive Premier League clean sheet in the process.

Manchester City 5 Fulham 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 22 March 2014, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure (c) (Rodwell 77), Milner, Nasri (Jovetic 82), Silva (Navas 68), Negredo
Unused: Pantilimon, Boyata, Clichy, Garcia
Goals: Toure (pen 26, pen 54, 65), Fernandinho (84), Demichelis (88)
Booked:

Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the Match: Yaya Toure

Toure scores from the spot.

Toure scores from the spot.

City eased past Arsenal in the Premier League standings to close in on top spot, following their emphatic 5-0 win over Fulham. Yaya Toure will grab the headlines for his first ever hat-trick, but the Blues were forced to dig in deep to produce the goods in a performance that wasn’t a classic.

The opening stages were something of a non-event. The closest either side came to opening the scoring was a Milner volley – as a cross to the back post found the midfielder – but Stockdale got down well to beat it away. At the other end, Richardson hit a free kick into the City wall, before he fired a rebound just wide of the post.

But, soon, the Blues had the lead. Amorebieta gave Negredo a kick up the bottom inside the box as the City striker tried to race onto a ball over the top and the linesman flagged for the penalty. The defender was booked and Toure slotted the spot-kick home.

It looked like the Blues might begin to capitalise on their advantage last in the first half, as Silva drove past Hangeland and got himself into a shooting position. He dinked his effort over Stockdale and it looked to be on its way in until Amorebieta nodded it off the line. It was then Kolarov who went close, forcing the goalkeeper to touch his powerful drive onto the crossbar.

Shortly after the break, however, the game changed in the Blues’ favour. Silva was through on goal after a neat bit of interplay on the edge of the box and Amorebieta chopped him down when going for the last-ditch tackle. It was a red card for the defender and a second penalty for the hosts – Toure stepped up again and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way for the second time from the spot.

Milner runs at Riise.

Milner runs at Riise.

Milner and Kolarov came close to adding City’s third, but it was the Ivorian midfielder who netted again on 65 minutes. A free kick on the left side of the box was played short between Silva and Nasri, who squared for Toure some 30 yards out. He picked his spot and wellied it into the corner of the net to complete his first ever hat-trick.

The floodgates could have opened at this point: Milner had an effort deflected wide, before Kolarov forced a good save out of Stockdale with a shot from range. Demichelis then had a header cleared from the line as he rose to meet a corner from the right flank.

With six minutes to go, it looked like Fulham’s punishment was over – but City suddenly put their foot on the gas. First, pressure from a corner chipped to the edge of the box ended with the ball at Fernandinho’s feet. The Brazilian took a touch inside and belted it into the top corner at the near post.

And, as stoppage time was approaching, it was Demichelis who rounded off the scoring. A Jovetic drive from the right was well blocked by Stockdale, but the defender was in the right place at the right time to stick out a boot and redirect the loose ball into the empty net.

Deep into added time, it should have been six, but Negredo was just out of luck. Sidwell tried a diving header back to his own goalkeeper, but he got nowhere near enough power on it and the Spanish striker got in first to toe-poke towards the top corner. The whole ground thought it was in – but it flashed an inch wide.

A vital win for City at the start of a very crucial run of games.

Manchester City 3 Sunderland 1

League Cup Final
Sunday 2 March 2014, 14.00 KO

City: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Zabaleta, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Silva (Garcia 77), Aguero (Navas 58), Dzeko (Negredo 88)
Unused: Hart, Clichy, Lescott, Milner
Goals: Toure (55), Nasri (56), Navas (90)
Booked: Negredo

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri

Toure scores a stunning equaliser.

Toure scores a stunning equaliser.

Manuel Pellegrini has won his first piece of silverware at Manchester City – at the first time of asking. The Chilean’s side came from behind to lift the League Cup, in a game of contrasting performances from the first and second half.

The Blues had the better of the opening chances, but couldn’t find the early breakthrough: Kompany’s header was deflected behind and, from the resulting corner, Aguero’s shot was blocked before it reached the goalkeeper. Mannone was called into action after eight minutes to push a low drive from the Argentine away – City appeared to have settled the better.

But it was the Black Cats who opened the scoring. A ball over the top found Borini after he had slipped away from Demichelis. Kompany came across to cover, but could only clip the ball into the Sunderland man’s chest to set him clean through on goal. His outside-of-the-right-foot shot bent around Pantilimon and neatly into the bottom corner. City were behind at Wembley again – but, this time, had 80 minutes to undo the damage.

The goal seemed to damage City’s confidence and it was Sunderland who looked more likely to add the next successful strike of the game. Borini volleyed from the edge of the box, but it was deflected over by Dzeko, before Brown’s header from a corner was wide when he should have done better.

Former City winger Johnson then wriggled inside Kolarov and drilled a ball across the face of goal. Kompany did well to clear without putting it through his own goal. A poor call from the linesman then forced the skipper into drastic action as he stopped Borini from adding his second of the game. The striker was one-on-one with Pantilimon – when he should have been flagged well offside – and the skipper slid it to get the ball behind.

Just before half time, the Blues could have been level through Nasri. He broke away from his covering defender and dropped into space, where he was found by Aguero following some neat interplay down the right flank, but the Frenchman’s effort was a comfortable take for Mannone – who’d had a quieter half than he might have expected.

It was a different City side that came out after the break. Zabaleta chipped a cross into the middle that nearly dipped in at the back post, before Silva forced Mannone into a comfortable save with a drive from the edge of the box. A free kick routine was then wasted, as a poor pass to Toure meant he couldn’t get a shot away. It was better from the Blues, but they were still trailing.

However, in the space of two second half minutes, the Blues went from being behind to having the lead. First, Toure chipped the goalkeeper with a beautiful curling effort from outside the box, leaving Mannone flapping at thin air. The Ivorian looked up and stroked it into the top corner to pull City level.

A minute later, a decisive breakaway added their second. Pantilimon took control of the ball in his box and immediately looked long for Aguero, peeling out to the left. He got it under control and laid it off to Kolarov, whose low cross towards Dzeko was deflected to the edge of the box. Arriving late was Nasri, and his outside of the foot volley left Mannone standing, as it brushed the inside of the post on its way in.

Sunderland, though, tried to respond: Pantilimon was forced to punch the ball over his own crossbar as it came into the box, before Demichelis’s clearance landed straight to Ki – but the Argentine defender made up for the error by nodding the incoming cross to safety.

The Black Cats continued to press, but couldn’t find a way through to Pantilimon’s goal. In the end, City had chances to kill the game – Kompany touched a corner just wide, before Zabaleta smashed a shot over from the edge of the box, following a strong run from the right-back position.

The Blues celebrate a League Cup win.

The Blues celebrate a League Cup win.

With a minute to play, City were let off the hook. Fletcher – in acres of space at the back post – arrived late to latch on to Ki’s knockdown, but with the chance to get a shot away with time and space, he miscontrolled and prodded the ball behind for a goal kick.

It proved costly for Sunderland, as, a minute later, Navas sealed the game. Fernandinho won the ball back for the Blues on the edge of their own box and Toure began one of his trademark runs through the middle. He slipped it right to Navas, whose placed effort beat Mannone at his near post.

The Pellegrini era begins with a victory in the League Cup and the Chilean will be hoping that’s the first of many trophies in the cabinet under his management of the club.