The first real trophy of the season goes to... Manchester City! But the favourites were pushed all the way at Wembley by a very impressive Sunderland side, who managed to boss the game -- and hold the lead -- for long periods of time.
The match began as you might expect from a clash between one of the Premier League's top sides and Sunderland. Manuel Pellegrini has access to a tremendous wealth of attacking options, and Sergio Aguero's return to fitness -- and therefore the starting lineup -- makes City even more dangerous. Within minutes, the Argentinian had given the Black Cats a scare, blasting in a shot from the edge of the box that Vito Mannone did well to save.
City had control, Sunderland were defending well and fighting for every blade of grass -- all very predictable. The David and Goliath narrative, however, was imploded in the 10th minute thanks to a gem of a goal by Fabio Borini. Lee Cattermole nicked possession from Fernandinho in the middle of the pitch, and Borini's run past Martin Demichelis was picked out in expert fashion by Adam Johnson. The striker was able to hold off Vincent Kompany's feeble challenge to get in on goal, and he finished off the move with a wonderful finish across Costel Pantilimon and in at the far post.
The goal should have woken City up, but it didn't. For the rest of the half, it was the Black Cats who were the more dangerous side, and they could easily have padded their lead before the break. Borini was foiled when in on goal by a magnificent recovering tackle from Kompany, who was also responsible for clearing away Johnson's cutback after the winger had embarrassed Demichelis on the byline. Sunderland, in fact, were playing so well that City ended resorting to playing on the counterattack.
But if Borini's game turned the game on its head, whatever Pellegrini said at halftime restored order. City's cadre of stars are capable of producing goals out of nothing, and 10 minutes into the second half, Yaya Toure did just that. The equaliser was absolutely stunning. 25 yards out, the Ivorian met a short pass from Fernandinho with a clipped finish that jumped over Mannone and dropped perfectly into the top corner.
It was a gorgeous strike, and Sunderland were still reeling from it when Samir Nasri grabbed a world-class goal of his own less than a minute later. Aleksandar Kolarov's cross was dangerous, but nobody was expecting Nasri to meet it first time with a shot. Especially not that shot -- the former Arsenal man rifled in a wonderful curling strike which clipped the far post on its way in. Usual service had been restored.
Sunderland responded well, but they didn't have the quality to further trouble Pantilimon, despite Gus Poyet throwing the likes of Steven Fletcher and Emmanuele Giaccherini into the fray. As time ticked away, City settled in, becoming more and more comfortable until they were finally able kill off the game through Jesus Navas, who swept home a counterattack in the 90th minute to secure the first silverware of the season.
Manchester City starting lineup (4-2-2-2): Costel Pantilimon; Aleksandar Kolarov, Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zalaleta; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure; Samir Nasri, David Silva (Javi Garcia 77'); Edin Dzeko (Alvaro Negredo 87'), Sergio Aguero (Jesus Navas 57').
Goals: Yaya Toure 55', Nasri 56', Navas 90'.
Sunderland starting lineup (4-5-1): Vito Mannone; Marco Alonso, Wes Brown, John O'Shea, Phil Bardsley; Jack Colback, Sebastian Larsson (Steven Fletcher 60'), Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Cattermole, Adam Johnson (Craig Gardner 60'); Fabio Borini.
Goals: Borini 10'.