Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City manager, declared on Sunday night that one trophy will not be enough for him this season and that lifting the Capital One Cup will give his side the belief that they can win four.
City revealed a mentality they lacked in last season’s FA Cup final when they came from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 and Pellegrini, not prone to grand pronouncements, said that the club would now attempt to clinch a historic domestic treble of FA and League Cups and Premier League title – with the FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan next. “We are going to try. It’s not easy,” he said. “We have respect for Wigan. We know what happened with Wigan [in the FA Cup final] last year. We are going to try to do it, of course.”
Though the 2-0 deficit City take to Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 a week on Wednesday creates a huge challenge, Pellegrini said that his side’s hopes of a quartet of trophies were renewed. “I’m absolutely sure that without good players it’s impossible to have a good team,” he replied. “It’s important that top players play as a team and today we did it.”
For Pellegrini, a monkey is immediately removed from his back. His lack of European managerial silverware is often quoted at him, with the 2004 Intertoto Cup being the only triumph for the Chilean on the continent. He said that crossing this new threshold was significant. “For me, it’s very important to win trophies but it’s also important to be in Europe for 10 years,” he said.
“If you are trying to win trophies in clubs that it’s possible to do it, you are always frustrated. I was very happy with my years in Villarreal, my three years in Malaga. Maybe the only [big] club before Manchester City was Real Madrid but I was there just one year. I was absolutely sure if we kept working we could win titles and today we won the first one.”
Manchester City 3 Sunderland 1 player ratings
Manchester City 3 Sunderland 1 player ratings
1/24 Costel Pantilimon 5/10
Could do little about the opening goal and had few shots to deal with. Not always convincing though, with the odd wayward punch.
2/24 Pablo Zabaleta 5/10
Frustrating first half as chances to get forward were limited but became more involved in the second period and laid on the pass for Toure’s goal.
3/24 Vincent Kompany 7/10
Surprisingly outdone by Borini for the opening goal but more than made up for it, particularly with a last-ditch challenge on Sunderland’s goalscorer.
4/24 Martin Demichelis 5/10
Continues to look a weak link in the Manchester City side, but did enough in this match to keep Sunderland from scoring again. Strong in the air.
5/24 Aleksandar Kolarov 7/10
Delivered the ball for Nasri’s goal and was a constant threat down the left with consistent deliveries. Dreadful clearance late on.
6/24 Fernandinho 7/10
Made vital tackles throughout the match and began to dominate the centre of the park. His challenge on Alonso started move for final goal.
7/24 Yaya Toure 7/10
A jaded performance was sparked into life by a quite brilliant curled strike. Played further forward in later stages and set up Navas’s winner.
8/24 Samir Nasri 8/10
Among City’s best performers, combining with his fellow midfielders and opening up Sunderland’s defence. First-time shot to score was sublime.
9/24 Sergio Aguero 7/10
Proved he was fit and ready for the final with some excellent touches and frightening pace. Showed great control in build-up to second goal.
10/24 David Silva 7/10
Usual brilliant self, with quick tidy passing constantly giving Sunderland something to think about. At times overplayed it and was taken off.
11/24 Edin Dzeko 4/10
Failed to influence the game, with his first touch letting him down. Managed to waste some time when withdrawn for Negredo.
12/24 Best of the bench: Jesus Navas 7/10
Pace was a threat when he came on for Aguero, helping to keep Sunderland pegged back. Scored the final goal with well-placed effort inside near post.
13/24 Vito Mannone 6/10
Could do nothing about the first two goals, which were struck brilliantly. Got a hand on the third but power took it past him. Otherwise good.
14/24 Phil Bardsley 7/10
Strong tackle on Silva early on showed he was up for this one. Crucial interception inside his own six-yard box with Nasri looking to find a team-mate.
15/24 Marcos Alonso 6/10
Was not tight enough to Nasri for the second goal but did well to limit City’s progress down their right in the first half. Tired in the second period
16/24 Wes Brown 6/10
Solid throughout, winning numerous headers when City tried to play the ball long, helping to keep Dzeko quiet. Headed just over from a corner
17/24 John O’Shea 6/10
The veteran defender showed he still has a bit in the tank when he needs it, managing to keep pace with both Aguero and Navas, just, and make crucial tackles.
18/24 Lee Cattermole 7/10
Showed desire to get on the ball whenever he could and leadership in abundance. Good pass selection, although made occasional errors.
19/24 Jack Colback 6/10
Put in strong tackles throughout and showed his ability to deliver a dangerous cross from the left. Did not always get the better of Zabaleta, however.
20/24 Adam Johnson 6/10
Exquisite pass with outside of the boot set up Borini’s goal. However, failed to repeat his recent good form and was withdrawn after an hour.
21/24 Sebastian Larsson 6/10
Played in a central position and was involved in Sunderland’s best moves during the first half. Less influential in the second and replaced after an hour.
22/24 Ki Sung-yueng 8/10
Assured touches in central areas and looked to take his team forward whenever he received the ball. Stung palms of Pantilimon from range.
23/24 Fabio Borini 6/10
Scored with great calmness to put Sunderland in the lead. Should perhaps have doubled advantage when in on goal again. Faded as game went on.
24/24 Best of the bench: Steven Fletcher 4/10
Decent chance inside box but could only shoot straight at Pantilimon. Provided focal point up front but touch let him down badly when in good position.
The Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, declared himself “sad” – though he said an angry reaction from his midfielder Sebastian Larsson after he was substituted was due to a foul in which studs were put into his foot in the build-up to Yaya Touré’s equaliser. “I’m not going to be a hypocrite like most and blame the referee but it’s a foul,” he said. “If you ask the referee, maybe he will tell you. He will have an excuse, they always have an excuse. Larsson is limping, hurt with studs in his foot.”
Poyet observed that two sublime first-time strikes, by Touré and Samir Nasri in the space of 105 seconds, were something that he could not legislate for – and were the difference between the sides. “Maybe I should have played two keepers to have a chance,” Poyet said. “The quality decided the game because they were two wonder finishes. There’s not much we can do with Yaya Touré unless we shoot him.
“I think we played [even] better by far than at Newcastle [in the 3-0 win last month]. At Wembley, against Manchester City, we had a chance. Maybe we missed some half-chances, but we made City earn it in a quality way. The rest is not in our hands. It’s not nice, when you are on the losing side, I hate it. Somebody needs to win because it is a final.
“I am a believer that City need to be average on the day. The special player like Nasri and Yaya are going to give you a problem if they have a good day. I am sad. I hate [losing this game] and [yet] I am proud.”