Chelsea 0 Manchester City 0 (aet, 3-4 on penalties): Sterling wins EFL Cup after Kepa defies Sarri

Raheem Sterling hit the winning penalty as Manchester City retained their EFL Cup crown with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea following a goalless draw that saw Kepa Arrizabalaga incredibly defy under-pressure Maurizio Sarri.

City hammered Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago but Maurizio Sarri's switch of system to use Eden Hazard as a false nine – with Gonzalo Higuain missing out at Wembley on Sunday – boosted his side's defensive solidity.

Pep Guardiola claimed pre-match it was too early to talk about City's chances of winning a historic quadruple despite being in the FA Cup quarter-finals, leading their last-16 Champions League tie with Schalke and sitting neck-and-neck with Liverpool in the Premier League.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea refuses to be substituted during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
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Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga reacts after he is called to be substituted off Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Chelsea's Willy Caballero gestures as he waits to be substituted on Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri reacts after Kepa Arrizabalaga (not pictured) refuses to be substituted Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates with the trophy after the match REUTERS/David Klein EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
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Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Manchester City's Leroy Sane and Kyle Walker celebrate after winning the penalty shootout Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Manchester City's Ederson looks dejected as Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the winning penalty of the shootout Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - February 24, 2019 Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri reacts after Kepa Arrizabalaga (not pictured) refuses to be substituted Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Manchester City's Leroy Sane (left) and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante battle for the ball Chelsea v Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final - Wembley Stadium 24-02-2019 . (Photo by John Walton/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City shoots during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea reacts as he goes down injured during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Kyle Walker of Manchester City reacts during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Jorginho of Chelsea FC is awarded a yellow card as Sergio Aguero of Manchester City looks on during the Carabao Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) appeals to referee Jon Moss Chelsea v Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final - Wembley Stadium 24-02-2019 . (Photo by John Walton/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: David Silva of Manchester City is fouled by Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Man City via Getty Images)
Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (C) scores a goal that is disallowed during the English League Cup final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in north London on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
24th February 2019, Wembley Stadium, London, England; Carabao Cup final, Chelsea versus Manchester City; A giant Manchester City flag being waved inside Wembley Stadium (photo by John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images)
A general view of members of HMS Collingwood on the pitch prior to the beginning of the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)
A general view of the Carabao Cup banner on display prior to the beginning of the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: General view as players and match officials line-up prior to the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Natalie Rushdie sings the national anthem prior to the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: A manchester City fan during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Chelsea fans outside the stadium before the game Chelsea v Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final - Wembley Stadium 24-02-2019 . (Photo by Bradley Collyer/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
Fans on Wembley Way near the stadium before the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: General view inside the Chelsea dressing room ahead of the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
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Remarkably, an injured Kepa would not make way for Willy Caballero in extra time and, although he saved one spot-kick, Sterling converted the decisive effort for City to deny Sarri, reportedly close to the sack, his first trophy as a manager.

A controversial start saw Jorginho escape punishment after appearing to elbow Sergio Aguero straight from kick-off before referee Jon Moss gave no foul when Oleksandr Zinchenko's challenge halted the progress of N'Golo Kante as the midfielder ran through on the City goal.

City began to find their rhythm and Sergio Aguero rifled a shot over the crossbar before his deflected effort was easily claimed by Kepa.

The holders thought they had opened the scoring in the 56th minute but Aguero was rightly flagged offside and a VAR check upheld the decision.

Kante should have broken the deadlock but, after Hazard's dazzling run deceived City's half-time substitute Vincent Kompany, he blazed the perfect cutback over the crossbar.

Aguero and Sterling could not find a finishing touch in an extra-time goalmouth scramble before City's record goalscorer was denied by Kepa.

The Blues keeper required treatment twice in the added period but refused to be replaced by Caballero, who saved three penalties for City in the 2016 final, leaving Sarri furious.

Jorginho's tame effort was saved by Ederson to hand Chelsea an immediate advantage, but Kepa denied Leroy Sane and David Luiz hit the post.

Hazard's Panenka effort kept Chelsea alive but Sterling crashed his strike in off the crossbar to retain the title for City and keep their quadruple hopes alive.

What does it mean? Players buy into Sarri system

Sarri has been wedded to his philosophy of possession above all else but there were signs at Wembley he is willing to compromise.

City dominated the ball – as they almost always do – but the Blues mucked in with hard work to deny the Premier League champions space in attack.

Sarri also sent on youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek as his first two substitutions in a popular move with fans, but Kepa's refusal to be substituted showed he lacks complete control.


Luiz shores up Chelsea defence

Often treated as something of a joke figure by supporters, Luiz produced an outstanding performance in the heart of the Chelsea defence. He was completely dominant in the air.


De Bruyne focus lacking

After missing so much of the season through injury, City's playmaker Kevin De Bruyne lacked his usual sharpness and incision on the ball and he was replaced by winger Sane.

De Bruyne overhit a surprising number of passes and crosses, contributing to City's inability to open up the Chelsea defence, while he wasted a 73rd-minute free-kick in an enticing position.


What's next?

City's Premier League title challenge continues on Wednesday with the visit of West Ham. On the same day, Chelsea welcome Tottenham to Stamford Bridge in a big London derby.

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