Man City lift League Cup
A week after letting in five goals, Willy Caballero made three saves in a penalty shootout against Liverpool to help Manchester City win the League Cup on Sunday and claim its fifth major trophy since 2011.
Though the Argentine goalkeeper is secondchoice 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 shootout after the two sides had ground out a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley Stadium.
Caballero stood firm during the shootout, 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, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana were all saved - and Yaya Toure went on score the final penalty to give City a 3-1 victory in the shootout.
"I watched a lot of penalties last night with Joe (Hart) and my goalkeeper coach," Caballero said. "I tried to make good decisions and fortunately God helped me a lot because it was a really, really good night for me." 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. Caballero's compatriot, City defender Pablo Zabaleta, backed the decision. "He was the hero of the day," he said. "It was one of those moments where I think Willy deserved to be in goal today because he'd been playing in this competition from the beginning and it was a great way for him to finish today."
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 demeanor over the decision showed him to be "a very good person" in addition to his traits as a top goalkeeper. Pellegrini faced a barrage of criticism a week ago when he put out an under-strength side in a fifth round FA Cup tie against Chelsea. Caballero featured in the subsequent 5-1 defeat, which came before a crucial week that also saw City travel to Ukraine to meet Dynamo Kiev in the first-leg of the Champions League's round of 16, as well as the League Cup final against Liverpool.
Having won 3-1 against Kiev and defeated Liverpool, Pellegrini felt his team selection against Chelsea had been justified.
"I think that the decision I took last week was very important to win these two games," he said after lifting City's second League Cup in three years and the club's fourth overall.