Aymeric Laporte felt Sunday’s EFL Cup triumph gave Manchester City a timely confidence boost as they enter a decisive period of their season.
Centre-back Laporte was the unlikely matchwinner against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday, heading home the only goal from Kevin De Bruyne’s 82nd-minute free-kick.
City were back at England’s national stadium eight days on from a sapping 1-0 reverse against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Now they will turn their attentions towards a Champions League last-four clash against Paris Saint-Germain, with Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Leeds United earlier on Sunday also meaning Pep Guardiola’s men are just two wins away from claiming Premier League glory.
“We are so happy to win this title again,” Laporte told Sky Sports after City lifted the trophy for a record-equalling fourth season in a row.
“It’s very special because we lost in the FA Cup so it is something good for us to get confidence and keep playing like we have done the past few months.
“We have done so, so good and we have to keep this rhythm this way to win more titles.”
Laporte’s moment to savour came against an opponent who he has often struggled to find his best form against.
A pair of mistakes leading to Son Heung-min strikes led to City going out of the 2018-19 Champions League on away goals, while a shaky display at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this term preceded John Stones replacing him as Guardiola’s first-choice partner for Ruben Dias.
The trend threatened to continue when Laporte was booked for a cynical first-half foul on Lucas Moura, having been incredibly fortunate to escape punishment for an earlier challenge on the same player.
“It’s hard. I was thinking a lot about that. We know that a little mistake can cost you a lot,” Laporte said.
“I’ve been careful in the second half and tried not to commit fouls.”
Laporte was not penalised for another foul after the Lucas booking and made no tackles or interceptions during the game – statistics that speak of both City’s dominance and his necessarily more reserved approach in the second half.
Long-serving City midfielder Fernandinho claimed a sixth winners’ medal in the EFL Cup, having also won two under Manuel Pellegrini.
It was the first time the veteran Brazilian lifted the trophy as captain, however, and it was unquestionably a proud moment.
“My first time lifting a trophy at City as captain is an amazing sensation,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think we deserved to win that game because we went from the first minute trying to score goals and created chances.
“At the end the game has been decided by a set piece.
“I am happy for myself, my team-mates, the staff, all the group. We have to enjoy this.”
Fernandinho added: “I’m really proud. To win six trophies in this competition is an amazing feeling. I’m grateful for this club and the fans – I was so happy to see them back in the stadium. Congratulations to everyone.”