Willy Caballero: Man City Keeper ‘deserved’ League Cup Final
Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero says he has repaid manager Manuel Pellegrini’s trust in him with his Capital One Cup heroics at Wembley.
The Argentine saved three Liverpool spot-kicks as City won the final 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Caballero, 34, was criticised after a 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a week earlier.
“It is well deserved for me to play this final,” Caballero, picked ahead of first-choice Joe Hart, told BBC Sport.
Caballero has started just four Premier League games since moving to the Etihad from Malaga in July 2014.
He had started every round of the League Cup this season and boss Pellegrini said he would rather have lost the final than drop Caballero.
The former Boca Juniors keeper kept out penalties by Lucas, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana after the game had ended all square after 120 minutes.
“It was incredible. To save three penalties and win a trophy is amazing,” added Caballero. “I enjoyed this a lot because it was hard work for me.
“It was the decision of the manager to put me in the starting line-up and now I can return his confidence in me.”
Pellegrini said he never planned to reinstate England international Hart, who has played in 24 of City’s 26 Premier League games this season, against Liverpool.
“I would prefer to lose a title than lose my word,” said the City boss. “My word is more important than football.
“We deserved to win the game before penalties, but I’m happy to win it that way with Willy as a great hero.
“Maybe most of the media were waiting for him to make a mistake and criticise my decision but I promised he would play both cups.
“He had to play against Chelsea with a young team so he conceded five goals. But I never lost trust in him because I know how good a player he is.”
‘FA Cup decision linked to cup win’
Pellegrini had fielded a weakened side against Chelsea in the FA Cup, mindful of a midweek trip to Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 of the Champions League as well as Sunday’s final.
He was rewarded with two victories, and the 62-year-old Chilean added: “I took a difficult decision last week not to continue in the FA Cup.
“That decision received a lot of criticism but, as a manager, I have to make a decision that is the best for the team.
“I am sure the wins in the Champions League and against Liverpool were absolutely linked in with the decision not to expose 13 players to three games in a week, because we are not able to do that.”
‘City not giving up on the league’
City face Liverpool again on Wednesday, this time at Anfield in the Premier League (kick off 20:00 GMT).
Leicester’s win against Norwich on Saturday means Pellegrini’s side trail the league leaders by nine points.
“We are not giving up on the Premier League,” said Pellegrini, who will be replaced by Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola at the end of the season.
“All teams will lose points so we will continue, try to win the next game against Liverpool and go until the end.”