Full-time: Manchester City 3 Sunderland 1. #MCFC win the Capital One Cup final. Man of the match just been announced as Samir Nasri.— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) March 2, 2014
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
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.
Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri on the train down to London. pic.twitter.com/ThYZWLwJA0— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) March 2, 2014
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
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:
Demichelis and Kompany playing so high that they're inviting another big ball over the top.— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) March 2, 2014
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:
Just when Borini thought it was only him and the keeper, he realised they had Kompany.— Index Football (@indexfootball) March 2, 2014
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
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:
Just as impressive as Borini's finish was the way he held off Kompany. Maybe he's coming to terms with the physicality of the English game.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) March 2, 2014
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
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:
Fletcher will regret not smashing that ball across the face of goal in the dying minutes. I certainly would.— Christian Cardiss (@ItsChristian_) March 2, 2014
Lot of stick for Fletcher on Twitter. You'd think he was personally responsible for the defeat. Face it, the better team won.— Stuart Hodge (@hodgeythehack) March 2, 2014
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.