Pep Guardiola labels Manchester City's third consecutive Carabao Cup win 'incredible'
Guardiola led City to a fifth Carabao Cup title in seven years after a 2-1 victory over Dean Smith's side on Sunday
By Dan Long at Wembley
Last Updated: 02/03/20 1:38pm
Pep Guardiola praised Manchester City's "awesome" performance against Aston Villa which saw his side lift the Carabao Cup for the third year in succession with a 2-1 victory on Sunday.
A nervy opening at Wembley made way for a confident performance from City, with Sergio Aguero's 22nd goal of the season handing them the advantage and Rodri's header extending it after half-an-hour.
Anwar El Ghazi took advantage of John Stones' slip to tee up Mbwana Samatta, whose brilliant header reduced the deficit before the break, but it was the holders who prevailed, despite a barren second 45 minutes in north London.
- City win third straight Carabao Cup title at Wembley
- Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City - Match report and highlights
The narrow victory earned Guardiola the eighth piece of silverware from his tenure at the Etihad and the Spaniard beamed as he praised his side's performance.
"It was awesome," he told Sky Sports. "I think we struggled in the first minutes and the last ones. They had two clear chances in the first minutes: the header and the corner. But we played really well, especially second half with the 2-1 [scoreline]. Sometimes you don't know if you attack or just keep the result.
"We played really good. We hoped to score more but the game was good.
"Three times in a row is a big success. It's the consistency and being there every day. It's incredible. It's not a big competition but when I arrived, every game we tried to win it, every competition we tried to win it. Three times in a row, being here and winning, this is a lot."
'Villa's focus shifts to Premier League survival'
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith, meanwhile, also expressed pride in his squad, despite narrowly missing out on a first League Cup victory since 1996.
Speaking to Sky Sports' Laura Woods, he said: "I thought we started the game really well. I thought we had a good game plan, we blocked the spaces that they wanted to get into, but they've scored a really well-worked first goal; Rodri's dropped a ball for Foden at the far post and Aguero has got on the end of it. I think if Tyrone [Mings] doesn't get half a block on it, Orjan [Nyland] probably saves it.
"We knew we were coming up against a very good team. It's the second goal that we're probably disappointed with because it's a tough way back against a team like Manchester City.
"At 1-0 you are always in a game and it certainly wasn't a corner. They (officials) have made a mistake, that happens. We've got to defend it better. Freddy Guilbert was marking Rodri and probably should do better. It's a mountain to climb from there. They certainly started climbing the mountain, the players, and we got a great goal.
"But I'm so proud of the players for the character they showed in the defending you have to do against them. I thought we were really disciplined, got some great blocks in when we needed to but also looked a threat on the counter as well. We had some good moments in the game and unfortunately it wasn't our day today."
On January 12, City subjected Villa to a 6-1 humbling at Villa Park - a game in which Aguero scored a hat-trick - but Smith admitted lessons had been both learned and acted upon, standing them in good stead for the remaining 11 games of the Premier League season.
He added: "I think Stones has tripped over and El Ghazi has put a great ball in but we spoke about the space behind and to try and expose it today. We felt, when we played them at Villa Park, we played in front of them too much and they are a team that wants to play in your half, so the space was always going to be behind them.
"We had a little chat right at the end and I'm very proud of them but that's the sort of performance we need to put in week in, week out. We went toe-to-toe with a top team today and if we do that every week and put in that performance then we'll be OK.
"The focus will shift straight away now onto Premier League survival. We all saw the results yesterday which have put us into the bottom three now, but we've got a game in hand and every game is a cup final to us."