LONDON: Manuel Pellegrini paid tribute to goalkeeper Willy Caballero after the Argentinian vindicated his controversial place in goal for Manchester City’s shootout victory over Liverpool in the League Cup Final.

Pellegrini had played Caballero, rather than England keeper Joe Hart, for City’s domestic cup games but was roundly criticised for his loyalty after the 34-year-old’s blundering contribution to the previous week’s five-goal defeat by Chelsea in the FA Cup.

However Caballero made three decisive saves as City carried the shootout 3-1 win after the tie had ended 1-1 after extra-time. Fernandinho and Philippe Coutinho had scored the goals.

Pellegrini, who is to be replaced as City manager at the season’s end by Pep Guardiola, said: “I think we deserved to win the game, we missed too many chances but played better than Liverpool.”

On sticking with Caballero, he added: “I prefer to win it this way, because I was pleased to win the title for the players, fans, the staff but for Willy.

“I preferred to lose the title than lose the word (of picking him). We are working hard, in the middle of the season, it is important for us to keep fighting now.

“I was concerned about the amount of chances we missed. After that we played better in extra-time. It’s a very important moment, and it’s always very special to win a title at Wembley.”

Caballero said: “It’s amazing. It was a hard week for me but we had a talk that we could do it. It is fantastic for the blue people. It’s important, emotional for me, my family, to be in this great team. It is a first trophy for me and for my family in Argentina.”

On his saves, he added: “I tried to see all the penalties last night, but my intuition got me through.”

Captain Vincent Kompany added: “It’s not the best way (to win), it’s the most unfair way. There was so much emotion in this final, we were having so many chances and missing so many. We left everything out on the pitch.

“We have got experience, we looked around ourselves, we found a moment of peace and calm and kept doing what we were doing. They were playing well but we were creating chances.”