Man City 1-1 (3-1) Liverpool : How and where was the game won and lost

Man City 1-1 (3-1) Liverpool : How and where was the game won and lost

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The last visit to Wembley for the Reds from Merseyside was almost ten months ago. A forgettable performance from the team against an Aston Villa side, who had just escaped relegation last season, saw Liverpool crashing out of the FA cup in the semi-final. When Jordan Henderson led the team out to the grass at Wembley yesterday, every Liverpool fan would have hoped for a different result from the last time. After a gruelling encounter, which lasted more than 120 minutes and penalties, the Reds once again ended up on the wrong side of the result.

In the end, Manchester City, who have been going through an indifferent season, finished as the deserving winners of the Capital One Cup. But, even before the referee blew his whistle at Wembley, Manuel Pellegrini had an upper hand on his rival Jurgen Klopp. In fact, the Chilean was ready for the title showdown weeks ago.

Exactly a week back, he donned the clothes of a villain after receiving a hammering from Chelsea to crash out of the FA Cup. Pellegrini had opted to start with six youngsters in the match and ended up with a 1-5 thrashing from Chelsea. Some called it folly, while others blamed it on his lack of respect for the FA Cup.

But, sometimes you have to lose to win.

The tactical play behind Man City's goal 

As a week passed by, the Chilean has become a master tactician for the same people. A title triumph in the Capital One Cup, and with his side almost confirmed of a place in the Champions League quarter-final – although Dynamo Kyiv fans may not agree – Pellegrini, who is slated to leave the Eithad stadium at the end of the season, has become hero again for the fans of Manchester City.

Even before the final at Wembley, Pellegrini conducted a dress rehearsal away at Kiev. Yaya Toure, who usually plays at the top of the midfield, was pulled back into a withdrawn position alongside Fernando and fellow Brazilian Fernandinho moved a bit to the right with David Silva occupying the role behind Sergio Aguero.

After a successful use of the new system, Pellegrini lined up the team in the same system and it proved fruitful with a 49th minute goal from Fernandinho. With Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno always in the habit wandering away from his position, Sergio Aguero found the ball outside the box and passed it to an onrushing Fernando on the right, and the midfielder thumped in a powerful shot past Mignolet, who once again made a clumsy error.

City’s goal, however, was not a perfect reflection of Pellegrini’s tactics. In fact, Mignolet should have saved the ball, which came directly at him. But it was about capitalising on the mistakes of the opponents, and Fernandinho did it perfectly with Moreno wandering out of position.

(Read about how Arsenal lost against a young Manchester United side)

The tactical play behind Liverpool's goal 

When Liverpool fans arrived at Wembley for the final, the memories of the 1-4 win against Man City back in November was on the minds of everyone. In what was a brilliant performance, the Reds had pressed Man City out of the game with Klopp outclassing Pellegrini in front of the home fans.

With Daniel Sturridge also returning to boost the lethal attack, which included Firmino and Coutinho, expectations of a win were not farfetched. However, after an initial spell of good football, all three faded away with Kompany and co carefully negotiating the trio.

After a relatively silent 80 minutes, Sturridge finally woke up from his slumber after the introduction of Divock Origi for Firmino. Putting two at the top and moving Coutinho just behind them worked to Liverpool’s advantage as Sturridge was left alone by Man City defenders and his pass ultimately helped in the goal for Coutinho.

Although both teams cancelled out each other in the 120 minutes to go into the lottery of penalty shootout, the use of Fernandinho in the right side and the introduction of Origi provided the way to the goals for both sides. Finally, Willy Caballero won it for the Blues from Manchester. Saving three spot kicks with excellent saves, the Argentinean grabbed the headlines and paid back Pellegrini with the trophy after the Chilean kept faith in him leaving out fan favourite Joe Hart.

(Also, take a look at our Managers XI - 2015/16 Premier League Managers XI - Who would make the team?)

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