Two moments of magic in the space of two second-half minutes helped Manchester City to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland in the English League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s favourites were trailing to Fabio Borini’s 10th minute strike for Sunderland and a shock looked on the cards until Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri intervened.
Jesus Navas completed the turnaround late on.
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Toure curled in City’s equaliser after 55 minutes before Nasri thumped home the winner to snatch the season’s first silverware for Pellegrini’s title-chasing side.
It was City’s first League Cup title since 1976.
“We needed to win today, it was very important. And we deserved it the way we played in the second half,” Toure told Sky Sports.
“Today we showed we are a great team. I think it was my best goal.”
Sunderland spent the opening five minutes entrenched inside their own half as City, who scored 19 goals en route to the final, moved the ball around with ease on the lush turf.
But minutes later the ball was in the back of the City net.
There seemed no imminent danger as Borini closed down Vincent Kompany but City’s skipper was guilty of over-complication and Borini robbed him of the ball before bursting into the penalty area and thumping a shot with the outside of his right boot past Costel Pantilimon.
City dominated possession for the rest of the half without ever carving open a Sunderland rearguard bolstered by former Manchester United stalwarts Wes Brown and John O’Shea.
Phil Bardsley, who scored in Sunderland’s semi-final penalty shootout win over United, reacted superbly to deny Sergio Aguero a certain goal but keeper Vito Mannone was not required to make any outstanding saves.
Sunderland were always dangerous on the counter-attack and could have doubled their lead when Borini ran through on goal from a suspiciously offside position but Kompany recovered to nick the ball away as the Italian cocked his leg to shoot.
A city onslaught was expected at the start of the second half but again, Sunderland continued to impress.
Ki Sung-yueng, part of the Swansea City side to lift the trophy last season, let fly from 30 metres, forcing Pantilimon to tip his dipping strike over the crossbar.
Then the wheels fell off Sunderland’s bandwagon.
One nonchalant swing of Toure’s right leg sent a curling 25 metre shot beyond the fingertips of Mannone after 55 minutes and two minutes later Nasri turned the final on its axis with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the penalty area after Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross was half cleared.
It was cruel on Sunderland who until then had been worth their lead but a further demonstration of the formidable firepower available to Pellegrini.
Sunderland refused to capitulate and once their heads had cleared from the shock of two lightning bolts they began to pose some serious questions of a city defence that still looked vulnerable to crosses.
With Sunderland throwing men forward substitute Steven Fletcher hit a shot straight at Pantilimon and they battled gamely until the end to no avail.
Substitute Navas made absolutely sure there was no way back for Sunderland with City’s third on the stroke of full time.