|Manchester City players celebrate after the League Cup final on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)|
LONDON (AP) ― Manchester City staged a second-half comeback to beat Sunderland 3-1 in the League Cup final on Sunday, with exquisite goals from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri inside two minutes sparking the recovery.
Returning to the stadium where Roberto Mancini’s City career ended in an FA Cup final loss last May, further Wembley misery appeared to be beckoning when Fabio Borini put Premier League struggler Sunderland in front after 10 minutes.
Instead, City, which has now scored 121 goals this season, remains on course for an improbable quadruple that would require all the resolve displayed in the second half to complete.
After a flat first-half performance, the recovery began after Toure nonchalantly curled into the net from 30 yards in the 55th minute, with Samir Nasri volleying home City’s second inside two minutes.
City fans were already celebrating just their third trophy in three years ― following a 35-year title drought ― when Jesus Navas completed a counterattack to add the third in the 90th minute.
“To win the first trophy I think is important for us all ... because at an important club you must win trophies,” Pellegrini said.
“In the second half we changed it and scored two beautiful goals and we had the patience to win.”
City is in the Premier League title hunt and has reached the FA Cup quarterfinals, but must overturn a 2-0 deficit against Barcelona to advance in the Champions League from the round-of-16 stage.
“I hope it will bring confidence for us to win the other trophies,” Nasri said.
After more than $1.5 billion of investment in less than six years, City has now won each of the domestic trophies in three years, following the 2011 FA Cup and 2012 Premier League title.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late equalizer as Real Madrid avoided a bruising derby defeat at Spanish title rival Atletico Madrid with a 2-2 draw on Sunday.
Ronaldo pounced on a loose ball inside the area to net the 82nd-minute equalizer ― his 23rd goal of the season for the league leaders. Karim Benzema put Madrid ahead at the Vicente Calderon Stadium after three minutes but, instead of wilting, Atletico hit back with two goals to take the lead by halftime.
Koke smashed a low shot beyond Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who then watched Gabi Fernandez’s swerving effort from 30 meters fly past him just before the break.
Madrid stayed three points ahead of Atletico, but Barcelona was able to cut its deficit to Madrid to one point after a labored 4-1 win against Almeria at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona led 2-0 by the 24th after Alexis Sanchez tapped a rebound into the empty goal before Lionel Messi curled an exquisite left-foot free kick around the defensive wall and into the top of the goal for his 15th league strike of the season.
A rout looked in the cards until Angel Trujillo got free to head home a corner in the 27th, and the relegation-threatened club made Barcelona work for its points.
Hoffenheim scored three goals in quick succession late in the first half to beat Wolfsburg 6-2 in the Bundesliga on Sunday and dent its hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
In the late match, Alexander Meier scored in the 89th minute to give Eintracht Frankfurt a 2-1 comeback victory over Stuttgart, which fell to its eighth consecutive defeat and is now one place above the danger zone.
Hoffenheim is the third highest scoring team in the Bundesliga after Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and it took only four minutes for Roberto Firmino to put the host side ahead with a perfectly weighted lob. Bas Dost equalized for Wolfsburg in the 15th with a header.
Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez scored either side of halftime as Juventus asserted its dominance in Serie A with a 2-0 win at AC Milan on Sunday.
Striding toward its third consecutive title, the victory moved Juventus 11 points ahead of second-place Roma.
“Only a tank could stop Juventus,’’ new Milan coach Clarence Seedorf said. “They showed their strength and Tevez provided the difference. He’s a great player.”
Milan, which was starting to gain momentum under Seedorf, dropped to 10th, six points adrift of the European places.