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Manuel Pellegrini vindicated after FA Cup defeat to Chelsea

Manchester City manager Pellegrini insists 3-1 League Cup final triumph over Liverpool justifies his decision to field a weakened team in FA Cup defeat to Chelsea

London: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said his side's League Cup final triumph over Liverpool vindicated his decision to field a weakened team in their recent FA Cup defeat by Chelsea.

Manchester City's captain Vincent Kompany (centre) holds up the League Cup after their win over Liverpoolat in the final Wembley Stadium, London on Sunday. Pic/AFP
Manchester City's captain Vincent Kompany (centre) holds up the League Cup after their win over Liverpoolat in the final Wembley Stadium, London on Sunday. Pic/AFP

Pellegrini came in for criticism for selecting a youthful team almost completely devoid of recognisable names for City's trip to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup fifth round, which saw Chelsea win 5-1.

But City's stars returned in a Champions League victory at Dynamo Kiev last week before edging Liverpool 3-1 on penalties in Sunday's League Cup final at Wembley after the match had finished 1-1 following extra time.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini. pic/AFP
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini. Pic/AFP

"I think the decision I took last week was very important to win these two games, mid-week in the Champions League and tonight (Sunday) to win the trophy," said Pellegrini, who previously led City to League Cup glory in 2014. "It was a difficult decision for me not to continue in the FA Cup, because we won the first two games in that cup 3-0 (against Norwich City) and 4-0 (against Aston Villa), but with 13 or 14 players, it was very important to keep them fresh."

Goalkeeper Willy Caballero was City's hero at Wembley, repelling spot-kicks from Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana in the shootout.

Coutinho had taken the tie to extra time with an 83rd-minute equaliser, after Fernandinho had put City in front early in the second half with a shot that went through Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

'Can't break promises'
Pellegrini resisted calls to recall Hart and claimed afterwards that he would rather have lost the match than break his promise to Caballero, who followed him from Malaga to the Etihad Stadium in 2014. "I'd rather lose the title than lose my word," he said, adding that Hart had shown he was a "good person" by supporting his deputy.

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