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8/10 Rodri central to Manchester City winning third straight Carabao Cup

Manchester City beat Aston Villa to win their fifth EFL Cup final in seven years. Watch Carabao Cup on ESPN+.

Manchester City won the Carabao Cup for the third straight year with a gritty 2-1 win over Aston Villa in the final at Wembley on Sunday. Sergio Aguero and Rodri put City 2-0 ahead in the first half, and while Mbwana Samatta gave Dean Smith's men hope when he pulled one back just before half-time, they were unable to grab the equaliser as City continued their phenomenal run in domestic cup competitions.

Positives

The reigning champions of England continue to be the masters of the game in this country when it comes to maintaining possession and keeping up the kind of forward pace that most teams just can't deal with. They were able to dictate how the flow of the game went from the fifth minute onwards, probing at will and calming the tempo down whenever the Midlands side edged into a dangerous position.

Negatives

At points there was an element of complacency to City's game at the back as they were too blasé in how they dealt with Villa when they came forward. When City made their own progress into the opposition's half, it felt like they were being a bit too experimental with the manner in which they tried to spread the ball from side to side, opening themselves up to potential counterattacks.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- There was a certain bravery to the team selection of Pep Guardiola as he put his trust in a few fringe players as opposed to going all out with his strongest starting XI. He set them up in a style that allowed them to pick Villa off and wait for them to make mistakes as opposed to forcing the issue, with his starting lineup paying off in a big way with a passionate and determined performance.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Claudio Bravo, 7 -- The keeper showcased a real confidence in how he came off his line and commanded his area before making a vital save in the final few minutes of the game.

DF Kyle Walker, 7 -- When you can drift forward at every available opportunity and still show the necessary work ethic to track back and defend well, it's a sign of a world-class defender.

DF John Stones, 5 -- While he did compose himself well in the aftermath, the Englishman's theatrical fall that preempted Villa's first goal proved why he's a liability in this team.

DF Fernandinho, 7 -- His positional play was off for Villa's goal but aside from that, he was sharp and calm under pressure at the back when he needed to be, and his distribution was on another level.

DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 7 -- When he needed to step up, he did, whipping in great balls and confidently timing his tackles at the back in a real breakout moment for the left-back.

MF David Silva, 7 -- The little magician did his job once again with solid footwork, quick distribution and the kind of vision that you just can't orchestrate.

MF Rodri, 8 -- The Spaniard repaid the faith shown in him by Guardiola with a cracking chipped cross for the opener and a goal of his own for the second to help guide City to the trophy.

MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 -- The midfield maestro kept things ticking along nicely before whipping in a lovely ball for Manchester City's important second goal.

Rodri celebrates after scoring in Manchester City's Carabao Cup final win over Aston Villa.
Rodri was instrumental in both goals in Manchester City's Carabao Cup final win over Aston Villa.

FW Phil Foden, 8 -- From his memorable headed assist to Aguero all the way through to his unbelievable touch and style in turning players on the ball, this was a showing to remember for the youngster.

FW Sergio Aguero, 7 -- City's greatest striker did what he always does with a well-timed finish to set the champions in their way to another cup triumph.

FW Raheem Sterling, 6 -- The surge into the box for the first goal was the highlight of the game for the former Liverpool star in a match where he wasn't really able to shine.

Substitutions

MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- The Belgian continues to serve as the mastermind of this side, piecing passages of play together with ease before latching onto loose balls from moves he created.

MF Bernardo Silva, N/R -- There was a constant creative energy in Bernardo's game from his delivery to his urgency on the ball.

FW Gabriel Jesus, N/R -- He made some decent runs into the box but wasn't given enough time to make an impact.

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