After 30 minutes it would have been fair to assume that this cup final would have been a repeat of the FA Cup final last May where Manchester City trounced Watford 6-0. However, that was certainly not the case this time around.
Story of the match
Unexpectedly Villa made a promising start to the match as they took the game to City. Whilst Cup keeper Claudio Bravo was not tested early on, the Blues' defence were certainly kept on their toes.
Eventually, Villa's bright start evaporated and the pattern of the game took place, City started to dominate the ball-winning a few corners, thankfully for the side in claret and blue, their opponents' early domination did not materialise to anything serious.
That being said it did not take much longer for City to breakthrough. 20 minutes in Raheem Sterling received the ball in his customary position on the left-wing, he squared the ball to Rodri who had the vision and the ability to loft a lovely pass into Phil Foden, the Englishman headed the ball back to Aguero and via the aid of a deflection from Tyrone Mings, the Argentine buries his shot past Orjan Nyland into the left-hand corner of the goal. 20 minutes played Villa 0 - 1 City.
Aston Villa initially showed signs of recovery as they won a free kick a few minutes later and Anwar El Ghazi forced a comfortable save for Bravo a few moment following the free kick. Villa's retrieval emphatically ended on the 30th minute following a corner from City.
This game was ultimately decided with a tale of two corners, the first for Manchester City ended up winning the final. Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish were both battling for the ball on the right hand side, when the ball eventually went out of play the linesman awarded City a corner when the ball clearly came off the German last.
In spite of the injustice Villa should have defended the corner far better than what they did. Gundogan with the out-swinging cross in, Rodri the 6 foot 2 holding midfielder lept up against his marker Frederic Guilbert and if there was ever a mismatch in the match that was it. The Spaniard directed his header past the Villa keeper to give City complete control in the match.
Villa were holding on for dear life and similar to the first goal City almost found their third but thankfully for the defending side, they were able to block Sterling's shot.
As the first half was withering out, Aston Villa sparked the cup final into life following good play for the first time in the match. Although fortune played its part in the build up, Villa showed great composure and quality throughout the move. Matt Targett with a hopeful pass over the top to El Ghazi, John Stones the covering defender should have cleared but lost his footing and slipped allowing the winger to get his cross in, from then the goal was of the highest order.
El Ghazi's cross from the left wing was met by a bullet header from Ally Samatta who gave Aston Villa hope and none whatsoever to Bravo who despairingly dived in vain to his right hand side. Aston Villa 1 - 2 Manchester City, game on at Wembley.
After a slow start to the second half the game erupted into life on the hour mark with Villa hanging on for dear life following a City onslaught. Firstly, Sterling is in but an excellent last ditch tackle from Bjorn Engels prevents the man who grew up minutes outside of the ground he was playing in a chance to make it 3-1 to City. Substitute Kevin De Bruyne received the second ball and typically found his his team mate, Foden showed great composure, cut inside but had his effort thwarted by Targett.
It was end to end football, tactics had gone out of the window and Villa were somehow still alive. 3 minutes from the 90th Villa win a corner, Irishman Conor Hourihane is roared on by his hopeful fans, he plays in a tremendous in swinging cross which is met by Engels, as the ball is sailing in for the equaliser and potentially extra time, Claudio Bravo who had been a spectator in the second half pulled out an astonishing save to tip the defender's header onto the post and City frantically clear the ball away.
On the counter attack Gabriel Jesus played in Sterling, on the right wing he played the ball back to Bernardo Silva but the Portuguese man had his fierce strike blocked by Nyland, five minutes were added on but City survived Villa's immense pressure and when Lee Mason blew the whistle for the final time Villa sunk to their knees and City celebrated a memorable Carabao Cup Final.
Takeaways from the match
Villa who must replicate in their bid of staving off relegation
If Aston Villa have any aspiration of remaining in the Premier League this season they must ensure that this performance was not a flash in the pan and they replicate the ambition they showed in this match for the rest of the season.
City's dominance in the Carabao Cup continues
Whilst it is increasingly likely that Manchester City will not win the Premier League for the third successive season, they have at least won this trophy for the third time in as many years after an excellent performance on Sunday afternoon at the home of English football.
There is still plenty to of trophies worth fighting for this season for City as they are still in the FA Cup and have a strong foothold of reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League following their first leg success against Real Madrid in Spain last week.
Up next for both clubs
It's a quick turn around for Pep's men as they are in FA Cup action to face Sheffield Wednesday in the fifth round at Hillsborough.