LONDON: Pep Guardiola claimed his maiden English silverware as his side thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in the League Cup final with Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva all on target in a disappointingly one-sided showpiece on Sunday.
The first meeting between the sides in a domestic final was no classic but Spaniard Guardiola will not care after his side’s class eventually shone through at a freezing Wembley Stadium.
City, who will also win the Premier League title barring a monumental collapse, did not even have to hit top gear to lift the trophy for the third time in five years.
Aguero’s 18th-minute goal gave City a halftime lead and Arsenal withered after the break as Kompany prodded in from close range after 58 minutes before Silva thumped home a left-footer seven minutes later.
Arsenal’s fans left in droves in the final 20 minutes while City’s fans decorated the stadium with sky blue.
After a trophy-less first season in charge of City, Guardiola’s career major trophy haul as a manager stands at 19, having won 11 with Barcelona and seven at Bayern Munich.
“It’s important. We’re so happy, and a big congratulations to all of Manchester City, and our fans. This trophy is for Manchester City and not for me,” Guardiola, whose side’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple was wrecked by a shock FA Cup defeat by third-tier Wigan Athletic on Monday, said.
“The first half we were not good, there were a lot of mistakes, in the second half we played with a lot more courage and personality – we were outstanding.”
Arsenal have now lost a record six League Cup finals and it remains the only silverware manager Arsene Wenger has not won.
“We self-inflicted our punishment,” he said. “We had an unbelievable chance at 0-0 and then gave them a goal.”
Despite the 27 points separating the sides in the Premier League, Arsenal arrived at Wembley having won their last three domestic finals, all in the FA Cup.
Their pedigree in knockout play offered hope of some salvation for another disappointing league campaign, but from the moment Aguero opened the scoring, it looked a lost cause.
For all City’s dazzling football this season, the breakthrough came from an old-fashioned 70-metre hoof forward by City’s keeper Claudio Bravo – who had kept his place in favour of usual keeper Ederson.
Aguero got the better of Shkodran Mustafi all too easily and as the Arsenal defender stopped and appealed for a foul that never was, Aguero calmly advanced to dink a delicate finish over David Ospina as Laurent Koscielny tried to cover.
Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was in use for the first time in an English final and Wenger could have been excused for wanting to have a second look just to clarify how his side had been opened up in such schoolboy fashion.
Kevin de Bruyne volleyed into the side-netting before halftime but Arsenal barely conjured a chance apart from early on when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang somehow failed to beat Bravo from close range after Mesut Ozil’s ball in.
City raised their level after the break and Arsenal lacked a chronic lack of belief that they could turn things around and win the trophy for the first time since 1993.
Kompany went close with a deflected effort and the next time the Belgian defender found himself in the Arsenal box, he poked out a leg to divert Ilkay Gundogan’s low cross into the net.
When Silva buried a low shot past Ospina from Danilo’s pass seven minutes later it threatened to get ugly for Arsenal.
They were spared further torment but the thousands of empty red seats behind Bravo’s goal spoke volumes.