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Capital One Cup 2014 Final: Manchester City vs. Sunderland Heroes and Villains

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Jesus Navas of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2014

The Capital One Cup is in the books, and favourites Manchester City emerged victorious, beating Sunderland by a score of 3-1 in a thrilling final.

Goals from Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas erased an early opener by Fabio Borini and helped secure the first trophy of the season for the Citizens.

Team captain Vincent Kompany couldn't hide his enthusiasm on his personal Twitter account:

Sunderland put in a valiant performance and looked the better side for much of the first half, but 90 seconds of utter brilliance were too much to overcome for the men of Gus Poyet.


Heroes: Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates his goal with Vincent Kompany of Manchester City during the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Toure and Nasri would have made every pundit's list of villains based on their first-half performance. Both midfielders looked completely lost out on the field, failing to contribute anything meaningful to City's offensive output.

But that only makes their second-half contributions all the more heroic.

Within minutes of the re-start, both had scored absolutely stunning goals that turned the tie on its head. Toure's effort was a magnificent strike from a long, long way out that had pundits singing his praise, including ESPN's Dale Johnson:

Nasri's effort wasn't too shabby either, firing a beautiful first-time shot past a stunned Vito Mannone and giving his team the lead.

While neither player put together a particularly fine performance, they will ultimately be remembered by fans for scoring the goals that turned this tie around.

If this picture from Bleacher Report UK on Twitter is any indication, both players have to be feeling pretty good.


Villains: Vincent Kompany and Edin Dzeko

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Vincent Kompany of Manchester City celebrates with the trophy after the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester City may have come away with the victory, but it was not a great performance from the favourites by any means.

Team captain Kompany had a horrible afternoon, misplacing passes and losing track of his man time and time again. City's high line didn't help either, as football writer Iain Macintosh highlights:

The Belgian defender didn't look good at all during the lead up that led to Fabio Borini's opening goal, but he at least made up for it with a crucial tackle right before the half. Index Football chimed in:

Dzeko somewhat surprisingly was given the over Alvaro Negredo, and the striker put in an uninspiring performance against a rugged Sunderland defense.

The Bosnian striker has spent most of his time in Manchester on the bench so far, and he did very little to convince his club that he should be given more chances.

He was substituted by Negredo after 87 meaningless minutes. 


Hero: Fabio Borini

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Vincent Kompany of Manchester City tackles Fabio Borini of Sunderland during the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Ge
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

For 35 minutes, fans of Sunderland could dream of pulling off the ultimate upset thanks to an early goal by Borini.

The Italian could have doubled his tally late in the first half but took too long to gain control over the ball and saw his effort wasted courtesy of a brilliant tackle by Kompany.

Still, Borini was a constant menace to City's defense and his goal was a tremendous display of physicality we had yet to see from the young attacker. The Times' Tony shared his thoughts:

Borini has had a difficult start to life in the Premier League, but he's a tremendously talented player with the potential to be a regular contributor for the Azzurri. While he will no doubt be disappointed at losing today's final, his performance gives hope for the future.


Loser: Steven Fletcher

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Lifting moment out of a 90-minute display of football is unfair, but that's just the way it goes in cup football.

Fletcher had a chance to put his team back on level terms with City when a stray ball came to him late in the tie, and he failed to do anything with it.

He could have crossed it in. He could have taken a shot at goal. He could have lofted a soft ball into the box and hoped one of his teammates would finish the attack.

Instead, he tried to get the ball to his other foot and clumsily played it out of bounds, which led to various criticisms on Twitter:

There's no telling what would have happened had Fletcher found a way to put the ball in front of the net, and ultimately, the more talented team won a game they were expected to win.

But fans will always go looking for a scapegoat, and Fletcher's wasted opportunity will be talked about for days to come.

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