Football Features

“An ageless legend” – Player ratings as Pep Guardiola’s magnificent Man City choke out sorry Spurs to win their fourth straight EFL Cup

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:48, 25 April 2021 | Updated: 19:24, 10 September 2021

In a tight afternoon of football, Manchester City dominated Spurs, winning 1-0 to lift their fourth straight Carabao Cup.

The win makes it 25 trophies as a coach for Pep Guardiola (he is the first manager to ever win four consecutive EFL Cups) and his City show no signs of slowing down, dominating opponents even without a recognised striker. Today they ran the show from start to finish.

Here’s how the players rated at Wembley:

Manchester City

Zack Steffen – 6 – Had almost nothing to do.

Kyle Walker – 7 – Did his usual thing of running fast, defending reasonably well and providing very little in attack.

Ruben Dias – 8 – Defended well for the whole game, unlucky to be booked. Marshaled the back-line superbly. A superb performance.

Aymeric Laporte – 8 – Definitely the “main character” of Sunday’s final. In the first-half he was caught out by the pace of Lucas Moura and was very, very lucky to avoid two yellow cards (he picked up one). Then in the second-half, after defending stoutly for the entire match and helping to silence the Spurs forwards, he appeared late in the day to win the trophy for City with a towering header in the 82nd minute. It was an epic goal from a controversial (on the day) figure and while Spurs will grouse about the fact that he was in even on the pitch, in truth his goal only served to dispense footballing justice and ensure the much better side won.

Joao Cancelo – 7 – Really helped pile the pressure on with some smart play in attack. Created two chances.

Fernandinho – 8 – Sweeping ahead of his defence as always. An epic display where he created 2 chances, made 3 tackles and 2 interceptions. An ageless legend, he now has won six EFL Cups.

Ilkay Gundogan – 8 – Dynamic. Kept the pressure up on Spurs with some delightful recycling of possession and driving passes.

Kevin De Bruyne – 8 – Showed no rust as he ran the show from the middle with an array of outrageous passes in the first-half. Was notably worse in the second half as fatigue began to catch up with him, but still produced a peach of a cross for Laporte to score the winner.

Riyad Mahrez – 8 – An absolute menace. Every time he touched the ball you could sense the terror in the Spurs defence who couldn’t get anywhere near him. Was officially voted man of the match and you can see why given how much dynamism he brought.

Raheem Sterling – 7 – Was sharper than he has been in ages, driving right at the Spurs defence and sending his defenders tumbling. His use of the ball was poor, however, and he wasted several good chances to score.

Phil Foden – 8 – Looked deadly, had a shot blocked onto the post from Alderweireld and his movement was so bright for the entire game.


Rodri (for Fernandinho) – n/a – Came on late.

Bernardo Silva (for De Bruyne 87′) – n/a – Came on late.


Hugo Lloris – 7 – Absolutely excellent. Dealt with countless instances of City pressure, whether it was handling crosses or stopping shots. Didn’t deserve to lose.

Serge Aurier – 5 – Struggled to cope with City’s pressure. Made several tackles but unfortunately one of those was the one that led to the game-winning goal.

Toby Alderweireld – 8 – Absolutely impeccable at the back. Had his defence organised into superb shape and made a heart-stopping block to deny Phil Foden a goal in the first-half. Absolutely should not have lost, a sublime performer.

Eric Dier – 7 – Defended well next to Alderweireld.

Sergio Reguilon – 5 – Some absolutely horrendous decisions on the ball. Couldn’t get near Mahrez all game.

Pierre Emile Hojbjerg – 5 – Completely overwehelmed defensively. Ruined Spurs’ best break with a poor pass to Reguilon. He pitched in and did his part to clear the ball but he wasn’t good enough.

Harry Winks – 5 – Got a surprise start but didn’t do much with it.

Giovani Lo Celso – 7 – Almost gave Spurs the lead with a well-aimed long shot. Made a big block to stop De Bruyne getting a free shot. Looked bright and his passing was key to several Spurs moves. Strangely taken off.

Lucas Moura – 7 – A constant menace when running on the break. Should have forced a City red card and played with real vigour.

Heung-min Son – 4 – Was he on the field? Should have been Spurs’ talisman but never looked a legit threat to their defence which was odd as he usually devastates them.

Harry Kane – 4 – A few bright moments in the second-half but overall looked very much like a half-fit man. Shouldn’t have started.


Gareth Bale (for Lucas 67′) – 5 – Did nothing but try outside of the foot passes. Underwhelming off the bench as he so often can be.

Moussa Sissoko (for Lo Celso 67′) – 4 – Came on to add defensive energy and while he did that to a degree he also lost Laporte’s run for the goal, which is probably not what Ryan Mason had in mind when he sent him on.

Dele Alli (for Hojbjerg 84′) – n/a – Came on late.

Steven Bergwijn (for Aurier 90′) – n/a – Came on late.