Capital One Cup Final: 'Now we continue - we're not giving up on the League' says Manuel Pellegrini

'If I could choose to win in any way, it would be this: with Willy as the hero'

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The Independent Football

Manuel Pellegrini credited Willy Caballero as the architect of Manchester City’s penalty shoot-out victory over Liverpool in the League Cup final.

The Argentine was chosen ahead of first-choice goalkeeper Joe Hart – as he has been throughout City’s run to the final – in spite of criticism following his performance in the 5-1 thrashing at Chelsea in the FA Cup.

The City manager had given Caballero his word that he would not change his mind on selection policy and he was rewarded with three saves in the shoot-out, from attempts by Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana.

“If I could choose to win in any way, it would be this: with Willy as the hero,” Pellegrini said, crediting Hart for his role in the victory as well. “Joe has demonstrated that he is not only a good player but a good person as well. He was very supportive in the dressing room before, shouting and offering encouragement.”

Pellegrini believes the achievement might prove to be a significant moment in City’s season. The Chilean will be replaced by Pep Guardiola, who leaves Bayern Munich this summer, but he would like to depart the Etihad Stadium with a treble.

“I am not talking about me – I am talking about the club. We have to continue. We are not giving up on the Premier League or the Champions League.”

“It is important to continue to trust what we are doing,” he continued. “There are 36 points to play for in the Premier League and although the challenge is big, it is not impossible. We also made a huge step the other day in the Champions League by winning in Kiev. So I am very happy.”

Following Fernandinho’s strike early in the second half, Liverpool equalised through Coutinho, forcing extra-time. Before that, Raheem Sterling had two clear opportunities to secure City’s victory. He was also involved in the build-up to Coutinho’s goal and was guilty of surrendering possession. 

For Liverpool, none of that mattered in the end; the club had never lost a shoot-out in a final before. It was suggested to Jürgen Klopp that, considering Germany’s efficiency in the same situation, the outcome seemed unlikely.

“I am sorry for this,” the Liverpool manager said, explaining that Daniel Sturridge did not take a penalty because of cramps. 

“At this moment I cannot take too many positives because I am a human being and, in defeat, it hurts.

“You have to feel how it is if you lose. Tomorrow morning we can change everything. Now, we can change nothing. Nothing is easy at this moment, but we have to carry on and then light might appear at the end of the tunnel.”