After a goalless 120 minutes, City eventually prevailed 4-3 on spot-kicks to win their sixth League Cup title, the second-most of any club behind Liverpool (8).
Despite the lack of goals the game was not without its drama, and there will be discussion for some while to come over Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to be substituted for Willy Caballero shortly before the shootout.
Kepa saved one penalty from Leroy Sane, but City converted their other four and Jorginho and David Luiz both missed to leave Maurizio Sarri still without a trophy in his managerial career and Pep Guardiola’s side one trophy down on the potential journey to a quadruple.
When these two sides met just a fortnight ago at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City were four up after just 25 minutes on their way to a 6-0 Premier League win, but this was a far tighter affair. The first real sight of goal took 22 minutes to come around when Bernardo Silva floated a lovely ball into the path of Sergio Aguero, who took a smart touch to open up some space but then fired over.
Aguero then had the ball in the back of the net after 54 minutes after turning smartly in the box, but it was ruled out for offside. Replays showed the decision was far closer than it looked in real time, with the striker appearing almost level with Antonio Rudiger, but VAR backed the linesman’s initial decision.
Chelsea came agonisingly close to the opener after 66 minutes as Eden Hazard finally found some space to run in behind. He glided past Vincent Kompany like he was not there then pulled a fine ball back to N’Golo Kante, but he blazed over from 10 yards. Five minutes later they went close again as Willian picked out Ross Barkley, but he curled one just over the bar.
City continued to do most of the pressing in extra-time and a moment of quality from Sterling nearly helped them break through. He darted inside from the right and pulled the ball back for Aguero, but Cesar Azpilicueta did just enough to deny him the opportunity to poke home from inside the six-yard box.
City could have won it mere minutes before penalties as well as an untimely slip by Rudiger allowed Sane in. He fed Aguero but his shot from the edge of the area was well held by Kepa.
Kepa appeared to injure himself in the process, which led to the moment of the final as he refused to be substituted despite his number going up, leaving Sarri apoplectic on the touchline and Cabellero trudging back to his seat.
Ederson then saved the first penalty from Jorginho, before Ilkay Gundogan, Azpilicueta, Aguero and Emerson all scored to make it 2-2. Kepa then saved from Sane but Luiz followed up immediately to hit the post for Chelsea.
Bernardo slotted for City before Hazard put the pressure on Sterling, but he found the top corner to send one side of Wembley into raptures.