Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini saw his side win the Capital One Cup final with a penalty shoot-out success over Liverpool – but insisted afterwards his word was more important to him than the result.
Pellegrini had faced criticism when he confirmed understudy goalkeeper Willy Caballero would play at the Wembley showpiece in place of first-choice Joe Hart, despite an unsure display in the FA Cup hammering at Chelsea last weekend.
But, after Fernandinho’s opener for City was cancelled out by Philippe Coutinho, an entertaining cup final ended 1-1 after extra time and in the ensuing penalty shootout, Caballero was to become the hero – saving three Liverpool kicks as Pellegrini‘s side took the trophy.
“I prefer to lose the title than to lose my word, there wasn’t any chance for Willy not to play,” he said.
“Maybe your word is not important, maybe the most important thing is to win things, but I think my word is more important than football.
“If you are sure you are going to win it, I would want to win it in this way with Willy being the hero.
“Willy is a very good goalkeeper. Fortunately for us he waited until the end and never tried to guess which side they were going to shoot. That is why he saved those three penalties.
“I think we deserved to win the game before the penalties with less work from Willy, he did not have to make a save in 90 minutes.”
Pellegrini will leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season to be replaced by Pep Guardiola, but the Chilean still has hopes of lifting two more pieces of silverware before he departs.
City are all-but in the Champions League quarter-finals after an impressive showing at Dynamo Kiev in midweek and remain outsiders to win the Barclays Premier League as they sit fourth.
“It is important to continue trusting in what we are doing,” he said.
“We have to play for another 36 points (in the league) yet so we are not going to give up. We made a huge step for the Champions League and winning this title gives us a lot of trust.
“I’m very happy, not because it is my final season, I’m happy for a lot of things. I’m happy for the performance of the team, we played against a difficult team in Liverpool, we lost to them at the Etihad (4-1).
“I thought tonight we played very well. I’m very happy for Willy Caballero, I think he deserved his moment. I’m happy also to win a title in February.”
Yaya Toure stroked home the decisive penalty after City had missed their opener when Fernandinho hit the post.
But, with Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero both converting before Toure, it was enough for City to lift the League Cup for a fourth time.