Fabio Borini gave Sunderland a deserved lead in the 10th minute, punishing Man City with a counter-attack. Trailing 1-0 at half-time, City turned the match around with two superb goals in as many minutes via Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri. After Sunderland spurned chances to equalise, substitute Jesus Navas sealed the victory on the counter in the 90th minute.
This is the first trophy for City under first-year manager Manuel Pellegrini, and the result will help erase the memory of losing last year's FA Cup final to Wigan at the same ground. City have won the League Cup three times, with their most recent triumph coming in 1976.
City will now resume their quest for silverware on three more fronts. Up next is an FA Cup quarter-final at home to holders Wigan next Sunday, followed three days later by a trip to Catalonia to face Barcelona in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie. City trail 2-0 after the first leg at the Etihad.
"What happened last year in the FA Cup final maybe played on their minds in the first half but the most important thing was for them to trust each other and to keep playing exactly the same," Pellegrini said after the match, per MCFC.co.uk.
Pellegrini added: "It gives us a lot of confidence. When you have a chance to win a title and you don’t do it, maybe you don’t think the same way. We are the only club who has the chance trying to win all of the competitions. If you have a chance to win the first, you must do it."
Sunderland find themselves deep in Premier League relegation trouble. Currently 18th and in the drop zone, the Black Cats host Crystal Palace in the league on March 15. Before that, however, is a trip to Hull next Sunday in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Sunderland started the match brightly and put the ball in the net in the eighth minute, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside in the buildup. Moments later, Sergio Aguero recorded City's first shot on goal, testing Vito Mannone with a powerful effort from the edge of the box.
In the 10th minute, Sunderland had the ball in the net again. This time, it counted.
Starting in their own half, the Black Cats hit City on a quick counter as Adam Johnson lifted a long ball over the top for Borini on the right. Borini outran Martin Demichelis and Vincent Kompany, holding off Kompany's challenge before curling his shot with the outside of his boot into the far corner past Costel Pantilimon for a surprising—but deserved—1-0 lead.
Sunderland had a chance to double their lead in the 15th minute, but defender Wes Brown directed his header off target from a corner. City came close to scoring an equaliser 12 minutes later, when Aguero burst down the right side and pulled back for Nasri in the middle of the box. But Nasri shot straight at Mannone, who saved.
Borini had another golden chance in the 38th minute, running free behind City's defence from just inside the halfway line. This time, however, Kompany recovered and made a timely sliding interception in the box. Replays showed Borini was offside in the buildup.
Trailing 1-0 at half-time, City went in search of goals immediately after the break. In the 50th minute, Nasri teed up David Silva with a layoff along the edge of the box, but Silva's shot was tame and Mannone saved easily. Moments later at the other end, Ki Sung-Yueng forced Pantilimon into a save with a fierce effort from distance.
City then turned the match around with two goals in as many minutes, and both were well worth the wait.
First came the equaliser in the 55th minute. Picking up possession 30 yards from goal, Toure lofted the ball toward goal. As Mannone scrambled across his line, the ball looped into the net at the top corner, giving the Italian goalkeeper no chance.
City were finally level, but they were not finished scoring.
One minute later, Aleksandar Kolarov led a counter-attack down the left, crossing into a crowded box for Nasri. The pass was deflected by a Sunderland defender, but Nasri reacted quickly, curling a first-time shot with the outside of his boot into the net at the far post.
City suddenly led 2-1, and Sunderland now found themselves chasing the game. Substitute Steven Fletcher shot on target in the 72nd minute after good buildup play along the edge of the box. Phil Bardsley shot over the bar in the 83rd minute, and Fletcher failed to produce a shot when the ball fell to him at the back post with time and space six minutes later.
Within moments, City sealed the silverware with another lethal counter.
Toure led the attack, surging through the centre of the pitch from inside his own half to the edge of Sunderland's box before laying off for Navas. With his first touch, the substitute tucked his shot inside the near post to make it 3-1.
Reaction to follow…
|Manchester City Player Ratings vs. Sunderland|
|Jesus Navas (for Aguero, 58')||RW||N/A||7|
|Javi Garcia (for Silva, 77')||DM||N/A||6|
|Alvaro Negredo (for Dzeko, 88')||ST||N/A||No rating|
|Sunderland Player Ratings vs. Man City|
|Steven Fletcher (for Larsson, 60')||ST||N/A||5|
|Craig Gardner (for Johnson, 60')||MID||N/A||6|
|Emanuele Giaccherini (for Cattermole, 77')||MID||N/A||6|
Man City host holders Wigan in the FA Cup quarter-finals next Sunday.
Sunderland play at Hull City in the FA Cup quarter-finals the same day.