Caballero comes up big for City in League Cup final
A week after letting in five goals, Willy Caballero made three saves in a penalty shoot-out against Liverpool to help Manchester City win the League Cup yesterday and claim their fifth major trophy since 2011.
Though the Argentine goalkeeper is second-choice behind Joe Hart in the Premier League and the Champions League, he has been a regular in the cup teams fielded by coach Manuel Pellegrini. And Pellegrini's faith in the 34-year-old keeper was duly rewarded with a memorable display in the penalty shoot-out after the two sides had ground out a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley Stadium.
City started the second half brighter and took the lead in the 49th minute when Reds keeper Simon Mignolet failed to deal with a cross shot by Fernandinho. It should have been a routine save, but the ball went straight through Mignolet.
Philippe Coutinho equalised for Liverpool in the 83rd minute from close range after an effort by Lallana hit the post and rebounded neatly into the path of the Brazilian midfielder.
Caballero stood firm during the shoot-out, opting not to second-guess which way the Liverpool players would send their penalties. His decision paid dividends as the spot-kicks of Lucas Leiva, Coutinho, and Adam Lallana were all saved as City won the shoot-out 3-1.
"I tried to see all the penalties last night, but my intuition got me through," a tearful Caballero told Sky Sports on the Wembley turf. "It was a hard week for me, but we had a talk that we could do it.
"It's important, emotional for me, my family, to be in this great team," he added. "It is a first trophy for me and for my family in Argentina."
Pellegrini held firm to his decision to give Caballero a final berth despite calls by some City fans to catapult England's number one, Hart, into the side to face Liverpool.
"I prefer to lose the title than to lose my words," Pellegrini said.
Pellegrini, who is in his final months at City following the club's announcement earlier in February that Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is to join in the summer, heaped praise on both his goalkeepers.
He said Caballero "deserved this moment" and that Hart's demeanour over the decision showed him to be "a very good person" in addition to his traits as a top goalkeeper.
Next up for City is Liverpool again in a league fixture on Wednesday.