Pep Guardiola has got off the mark with his first piece of silverware in English football, courtesy of Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday’s EFL Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
The Citizens triumphed in the competition for the third time in five years through goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva under the famous arch.
City barely had to break stride to earn their first trophy under Guardiola, with Arsenal failing to get going at all in the second half as they suffered a fourth defeat in six matches, leaving them with just the Europa League to fight for.
In the maiden major final between these two sides in any competition, it was Arsenal who created the first big chance which they were unable to take.
After being picked out by Mesut Ozil at the back post, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not quite make contact with his initial shot thanks to good defensive work from Kyle Walker, but Claudio Bravo was still required to stop the ball crossing the line.
Bravo was also to thank for keeping out the follow-up, which Aubameyang failed to lift over the Chilean stopper from a few yards out.
City then took the lead through their only serious chance of the first half, as a simple punt forward by Bravo was lofted over the reach of David Ospina by Aguero – his 30th goal of another impressive campaign.
Arsenal felt that the goal should not have stood due to a perceived push from the goalscorer on Shkodran Mustafi in the build-up, but with the VAR system in play the goal was rightly allowed to stand.
Opportunities at both ends of the field were proving to be few and far between for the remainder of the opening 45 minutes, with Kevin De Bruyne blasting into the side-netting from inside the area at one end, and Aaron Ramsey forcing nothing more than a simple stop out of Bravo from a free kick at the other.
The Gunners, shaping up with a three-man backline and two wing-backs from the off, decided to stick with the system for the start of the second period despite struggling for creativity.
One skipper blocked another soon after the restart, as Kompany’s drive from the edge of the box deflected off Laurent Koscielny – one of two survivors from the 2011 EFL Cup final defeat to Birmingham City here – and ended wide of the the target.
Kompany found a way through shortly before the hour with an instinctive finish, though, helping Ilkay Gundogan’s shot past a wrong-footed Ospina for a killer second.
Arsenal, with just six goals to their name throughout this year’s competition, had an even bigger mountain to climb seven minutes later once Silva rounded off a nice team move, sending the ball past Ospina from a slight angle following an assist from Danilo.
Arsene Wenger, beaten in the final for a third time in a row, finally changed things around at that point by bringing on striker Danny Welbeck for defender Calum Chambers.
City, still on course to add the Premier League and Champions League to their collection, had to luxury of bringing on Gabriel Jesus late on for his first taste of competitive action this year, as the game petered to its conclusion.
There was to be no joy for Wenger in his 22nd attempt at winning this trophy, then, but for Guardiola it is a 22nd major honour during his managerial career – and a first with treble-chasing City.