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Match Analysis: Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland

Sports Mole casts an analytical eye over the 3-1 victory that saw Manchester City lift the League Cup trophy at the expense of Sunderland at Wembley.

Manchester City won the League Cup for the third time in their history thanks to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Wembley this afternoon.

Sunderland were the underdogs before the game got underway, but they broke the deadlock in the 10th minute through Fabio Borini.

It remained 1-0 until the break, but quickfire goals after the restart from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri put City in front. Then, as time was running out, Jesus Navas sealed the outcome with a counter-attack goal.

Below, Sports Mole has looked back over the contest to determine if City are deserving winners of the trophy.

Match statistics

Man City
Shots: 11
On target: 6
Possession: 62%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 13

Sunderland
Shots: 6
On target: 3
Possession: 38%
Corners: 7
Fouls: 10

Was the result fair?

Never has the old adage 'a game of two halves' been more relevant. Sunderland were the better team before the break and deservedly held the lead, but City were much stronger after the restart and eventually their key players produced the goods. The Black Cats will feel hard done by and that is understandable, but the harsh reality is that City scored more goals than Sunderland during their respective dominant periods.

Man City's performance

After 45 minutes, even the most biased of City supporters would have been fearing the worst. Their side looked shaky defensively and there was very little tempo about their passing and movement in the final third of the pitch. However, the reason that City spend big money on the likes of Toure and Nasri is for moments like the pair produced today. The duo's goals within the space of 90 seconds injected confidence into City, and from that point onwards, it only looked like there was going to be one winner.

Sunderland's performance

It will be of little consolation to Sunderland, but they can hold their heads up high after their display. Having opened the scoring, they remained positive and went in search of a second goal. They also deserve credit for City's poor performance during the first half because they refused to let them settle in possession. All their hard work would ultimately be undone by two moments of second-half magic, though. Again, Gus Poyet's men should be praised because after a brief wobble they regained their composure and went in search of an equaliser. However, despite all of Sunderland's efforts, City stood firm and added the decisive third.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Ki Sung-Yueng: The majority of those who watched the match will probably select Toure or Nasri, which one can understand. After all, without them City would not have won the game. However, we are going for a player who ended up on the losing team today. From the first whistle to the last, Ki was a prominent figure for Sunderland. His passing was always neat and off the ball he worked hard for his team. The South Korean midfielder has been impressive for Sunderland this term and they will need him to continue that form as the Premier League and the FA Cup enter the business end.

Biggest gaffe

With Sunderland pushing hard to level proceedings in the final few minutes, it was vitally important that they converted any chance that they created. So, when the ball dropped to an unmarked Steven Fletcher to the right-side of the target, he had a clear shot at goal. The Scot wanted to get the ball on his stronger left foot, though, and in the ensuing panic he failed to gain control and the opening was wasted. Had he swung his right boot at it instead, then anything could have happened.

Referee performance

Sometimes a referee can be overawed by the occasion of a cup final, but not Martin Atkinson. There were some hefty challenges throughout the game, particularly from the Sunderland players, but they took the ball and were rightly allowed to play on, whereas other officials may have blown the whistle for fouls. The fact that Atkinson allowed the game to flow was a major reason why it was such a good match to watch.

What next?

Man City: Having won the League Cup, City's attention will now turn to the FA Cup quarter-finals next weekend when they take on Championship side Wigan Athletic, who beat them in last year's final.

Sunderland: The Black Cats are also still in the FA Cup and will face fellow Premier League outfit Hull City for a place in the last four.

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Manchester City players pose together with the League Cup after winning the final football match between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium in London on March 2, 2014
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Result: Manchester City win League Cup
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