Thomas Frank is excited about Brentford’s attacking potential going into next season after Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of Luton.

The Bees ran riot at Kenilworth Road with Yoane Wissa on target twice and Bryan Mbeumo able to pull the strings as the fulcrum of a fluid attack.

Keane Lewis-Potter also got on the scoresheet along with substitute Kevin Schade, while Mikkel Damsgaard caught the eye in a display all the more impressive given Ivan Toney’s absence.

With Toney eager to move on this summer, the five-goal spree at Luton was a timely example of Brentford being able to show there will be life after the anticipated departure of their talisman.

“We were very good offensively,” Frank acknowledged.

“Wissa getting two goals, a fantastic goal. Keane got a goal, Kevin Schade coming off the bench and got a goal.

“Bryan probably should have got a goal, but was at least two assists and was involved in all the goals, so very pleased with that.

“I think it is promising. I was actually going into this season very optimistic.

“I am always optimistic. Sometimes too optimistic! But I think it is good to have belief in your players.

“Then we have been so unlucky with injuries. You can see when we get more of our best players back the potential in the team.”

Saturday’s comprehensive win extended Brentford’s unbeaten run to five matches and Frank has set the target of ending a “tough season” on a high.

The Bees could be boosted by the return of Toney at Everton next weekend after he was absent at Luton due to his ongoing hip issue.

Frank revealed: “He was very close. If this was a play-off final, which it wasn’t, then I would have played him, but we need to get him absolutely right and fully fit.

“I meant what I said before, after Sheffield United, that I thought he would be ready for this game. It was just too short so I strongly believe he is ready for Everton. I really hope that.”

Meanwhile, Luton boss Rob Edwards admitted there would be no major repercussions following their second consecutive 5-1 loss.

“I didn’t rant and rave,” Edwards explained.

“I am not sure it would have had too much of an effect right there and right then. It might be a case on Monday. I’ll see how I feel once I have reviewed things.

“This week we need to show the things we’ve not done well enough and try to correct some things, but at this stage of the season as well what we can’t do now is lose people or blame people.

“I can’t become a different person just because we’ve lost a game of football.”

On this day in 2013, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez attracted criticism after biting Branislav Ivanovic on the arm in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

The Uruguay international was at the centre of several of the game’s key moments in an eventful afternoon at Anfield.

Suarez conceded a penalty in the second-half for handling the ball in the box and Eden Hazard converted from the penalty spot.

Stoppage-time was jam-packed with drama as the Liverpool forward sank his teeth into Ivanovic’s arm, but no action was taken by referee Kevin Friend, who missed the incident, and Suarez went on to rescue a point for the Reds with an equaliser in the final minute of added time.

The forward apologised to Ivanovic on Twitter and through a statement issued on the Liverpool website, saying: “I am deeply sorry for my inexcusable behaviour earlier today during our match against Chelsea.

“I have issued an apology and have tried to contact Branislav Ivanovic to speak to him personally. I apologise also to my manager, playing colleagues and everyone at Liverpool for letting them down.”

Three days after the Chelsea game Suarez was hit with a 10-match ban for the bite after pleading guilty to a violent conduct charge.

It was not the first time Suarez had brought controversy to the club – he had been banned for eight matches the previous season after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.

He also had a history of biting at former club Ajax, where he bit PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal and was handed a seven-match ban.

Suarez would go on to reoffend while on international duty for Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup, where he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in their group stage clash.

Scottie Scheffler’s PGA Tour dominance looks to be showing no signs of slowing down as the world number one heads into the final day of the RBC Heritage with a one shot lead on 16 under.

Fresh off securing his second Masters title in three years, the 27-year-old shot up the leaderboard at Hilton Head on Saturday with a bogey-free third round score of eight under 63.

He leads by one stroke from Austria’s Sepp Straka, while America’s Collin Morikawa sits outright third on 14 under.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy carded a second straight round of 68 to be tied for 12th place on 10 under.

Meanwhile, defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick is tied for 25th after the Englishman carded a third round score of 70.

Nikola Jokić had 32 points and 12 rebounds and got ample help from his teammates as the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets continued their recent mastery of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 114-103 win in their Western Conference playoff opener on Saturday.

Jamal Murray tallied 22 points and 10 assists, Aaron Gordon added 12 and 11 rebounds and Michael Porter Jr. contributed 19 points and eight boards as the Nuggets won their ninth straight against the Lakers.

Anthony Davis matched Jokic with 32 points and 14 rebounds and LeBron James scored 27 points, but D’Angelo Russell was held to 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting – including 1 of 9 from 3-point range – and Rui Hachimura managed just seven points in 31 minutes.

Los Angeles hasn’t beaten Denver since Dec. 16, 2022, and will try again Monday in Denver, where the Nuggets are 34-8 this season.

Denver’s lead was down to 103-96 with five minutes left but Porter Jr. hit a 3 and Jokic dunked off a turnover by James to push the lead to 12.

  

Knicks’ reserves step up in win

Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart each scored 22 points and the New York Knicks got a huge lift from their bench for a 111-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Deuce McBride outscored the 76ers by himself with 13 points in the second quarter and finished with 21 on 7-of-12 shooting, including 5 of 7 from long range. Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 points and Mitchell Robinson came off the bench to add eight points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Joel Embiid had 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points for the 76ers, who will try to even the series in Game 2 on Monday.

Embiid was listed as questionable to play and went down with 2:49 left in the first half with an apparent injury to his surgically repaired knee. He walked to the locker room area and missed the rest of the first half but returned to start the second.

Hart made a pair of huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the second extending the Knicks’ lead to 107-100 with one minute remaining.

 

Edwards powers Timberwolves past Suns

Anthony Edwards scored 18 of his 33 points in the third quarter and grabbed nine rebounds to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a tone-setting 120-95 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns in their series opener.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points, Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 18 and Rudy Gobert tallied 14 points, 16 rebounds and stellar defence to help Minnesota to its first home win in the playoffs in 20 years.

Edwards keyed a 19-4 run to close the third quarter for a 20-point cushion and put a bow on his performance by stealing the ball from Kevin Durant and finishing with a slam on the other end to give the Timberwolves a 111-91 lead with 3:37 left.

Durant scored 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting, but Devin Booker was held to 18 on 5 for 16 from the field. The Suns were outrebounded 52-28 and outscored 52-34 in the paint.

Game 2 is in Minnesota on Tuesday before the best-of-seven series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3.

 

Zack Wheeler took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and Brandon Marsh hit a two-run homer as the surging Philadelphia Phillies defeated the lowly Chicago White Sox, 9-5 on Saturday.

Wheeler held the White Sox hitless until Korey Lee’s one-out single in the eighth. The right-hander struck out eight, walked two and threw 75 of 106 pitches for strikes.

A night earlier, Spencer Turnbull didn’t allow a hit until Gavin Sheets’ one-out single in the seventh.

The Phillies won their fifth straight and moved five games over .500 in April for the first time since 2019.

Marsh’s home run in the second off Michael Soroka gave Philadelphia a 3-0 lead and Trea Turner’s two-run double in the seventh made it 9-0.

The White Sox scored their first runs of this series with five in the ninth but dropped to a major league-worst 3-17.

 

Streaking Mets beat Dodgers

Starling Marte belted a go-ahead, three-run homer and Pete Alonso made a stellar defensive play to lift the New York Mets to their sixth straight victory, 6-4 over the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers.

Marte finished with four RBIs and Francisco Lindor drove in two runs as the Mets improved to 12-3 after an 0-5 start.

The Dodgers went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base. They have lost three consecutive series for the first time since June, and three straight series at home for the first time since August 2018.

Marte’s 432-foot shot off reliever Ryan Brasier in the sixth snapped a 2-2 tie.

Los Angeles had the bases loaded in the sixth trailing 5-4 before Max Muncy grounded to Alonso, who fielded the ball near the edge of the outfield grass, sprinted in and dove to tag the bag for the third out.

New York won despite issuing 10 walks, its most since Aug. 15. They last walked 10 in a win on May 13, 2014, in a 12-7 victory over the Yankees.

 

D’Arnaud homers again in Braves’ win

Charlie Morton combined with three relievers on a five-hitter and the Atlanta Braves defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 for their sixth straight win.

Morton gave up two runs and four hits with two walks in six innings. Joe Jimenez and A.J. Minter each pitched one inning and Raisel Iglesias worked the ninth for his sixth save in as many chances.

D’Arnaud, who drove in six runs with three home runs on Friday, hit a two-run shot in the eighth off Austin Pruitt to close the scoring.

Luis Guillorme had an RBI double and scored on Michael Harris’ single before Matt Olson’s sacrifice fly snapped a 2-2 tie in the second.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta stood in unison with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola in condemning the fixture schedule.

Guardiola said it was “unacceptable” that his side had to play an FA Cup semi-final less than 72 hours after being in action in the Champions League on Wednesday night as they beat Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday tea-time.

The Gunners’ plight was arguably worse as they were also in Europe on Wednesday night but had to travel back from Germany on Thursday following their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

They made light of that quick turnaround as they beat Wolves 2-0 on Saturday to go back to the top of the Premier League before they play again on Tuesday night against Chelsea.

“It’s not about us, Pep or myself, it’s about the well-being of the players,” Arteta said after Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard goals sent his side one point above City.

“Especially when you are competing in European competition, everything has to be competed in the same way.

“You cannot have a team that hasn’t played for seven days or three days before and has more recovery time and you have to play in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

“It is not right. If you look at it any angle it’s not right. If you want to protect and you always talk about the players and the protagonists, let’s protect them and think about them and do everything we can to give them the maximum time so they can recover and they can maintain the show they put on every week.

“We stayed in Munich, I think we had two hours sleep, wake up and we started to talk about Wolves first of all and then understand what we had to do to win the game.

“The boys were unbelievable. You look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played and the attitude and the way they have run today is top.”

It was a good recovery from the Gunners after a horror week where their title hopes were damaged by a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa last week before their Champions League exit in Munich.

But they could be four points clear of City by the time Guardiola’s side next play as they try to wrestle control of a thrilling title race.

Arteta added: “It was really good, I really liked the performance, the result, the clean sheet but also the way individually and a team they showed they still have a step forward to make.

“We realised we want to be involved in big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League, the level it requires, we have to do something special. You have to have that love to compete.”

Wolves battled hard but are crippled by injuries, with the majority of their key attacking players sidelined.

They are now six games without a win, but boss Gary O’Neil was proud.

“I thought it was an incredible performance, it exceeded my expectation of what we were able to produce today,” he said.

“We didn’t deserve to lose 2-0, losing 1-0 and not quite being able to break them down is probably as bad as it should have been for us.

“We came up just short against one of the best teams in world football so there’s no disgrace in that.”

Luca Brecel fell victim to the so-called ‘Crucible curse’ as qualifier David Gilbert reeled off the final four frames to claim a stunning 10-9 win over the defending champion on the opening day of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

The Belgian became the 19th first-time champion to fail to defend his title at the famous venue as Gilbert, a semi-finalist in 2019, surged back level with three successive half-centuries then dispatched a nerveless 65 which proved enough to secure a famous win.

When Brecel shook hands with only one snooker required, it marked a stunning end to his kamikaze reign as champion, which had seen the 29-year-old switch his focus firmly to high-value acquisitions off the table while he struggled to reach a solitary ranking quarter-final on it.

For Gilbert it completed a stunning revival, having won a single Crucible match in the four years since his run to the last four, during which he found himself frequently questioning his motivation to continue.

A missed green off its spot when Brecel stood on the brink of victory at 9-8 proved one of many decisive moments as Brecel mixed a display of stunning potting with wild shot choices and careless errors that constantly prevented him from making the decisive move.

Brecel had blasted two centuries and two more breaks over 70 in a quickfire opening session that he shaded 6-3, seemingly dispelling fears that he was returning to Sheffield woefully ill-prepared to avoid the fate of so many former champions.

A break of 115 helped Gilbert hang onto his opponent’s coat-tails but he failed to take a series of chances in the early stages of their resumption, and Brecel had one foot in the last 16 at 9-6 before Gilbert summoned his dramatic twist.

Earlier, Judd Trump rode his luck to establish a 6-3 overnight lead over Hossein Vafaei.

Third seed Trump looked sharp and focused against the dangerous Iranian qualifier, but Vafaei was left to rue a series of missed opportunities ahead of their resumption on Sunday afternoon.

The 29-year-old could easily have headed into the mid-session interval with a 4-0 lead over the 2019 champion, but instead it was Trump who kept his nerve to carve a 3-1 advantage that he never looked likely to relinquish.

Stephen Maguire produced two centuries but could not shake off ninth seed Ali Carter, who takes a 5-4 lead into their conclusion on Sunday.

The Scot, a two-time semi-finalist, made a storming start with breaks of 93 and 114 but showed his frustration as untimely errors scattered the rest of the session, before a nervy 55 in the ninth frame enabled him to keep in touch with the two-time former finalist.

Zhang Anda, the 11th seed, trails 5-2 after the opening session against qualifier Jak Jones, in a low-quality match that was hauled off two frames early due to slow play.

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk insists “anything is possible” as the Reds seek to overhaul Manchester City and Arsenal in what could be a thrilling season finale.

Jurgen Klopp’s side dropped to third last weekend after defeat to Crystal Palace and the initiative is now with their rivals.

However, Van Dijk remains optimistic about their chances over the final six games.

 

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“Big six. Anything is still possible. We have to give it everything and we will give it everything,” said the Netherlands captain.

“We have to focus on each game as they come.”

A Europa League exit to Atalanta in midweek was another blow to confidence but Van Dijk does not see the point in dwelling on past results.

“We have all the reasons to be disappointed. But it’s our own fault,” he added.

“It’s not one factor, it’s multiple. We’re all human beings, we all want to do well, keep clean sheets and score goals.

“But we are where we are and the situation is what it is. When the games don’t go well – obviously didn’t happen many times this season – we all have to switch it back on.

“We have to focus on ourselves like we always have been doing and that never changes.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag “can’t be bothered” with criticism of the job he is doing at Old Trafford and claims he has only been able to pick his strongest team once in 18 months.

The Dutchman delivered an encouraging first season, winning the League Cup and finishing in the top four, but this campaign has been far more difficult.

They were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage and are in a battle to finish in the top six in the Premier League, with his position coming under scrutiny following Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority purchase and takeover of the football operations.

United can salvage their season by winning the FA Cup and they aim to reach a second successive final when they host Championship Coventry on Sunday.

Ten Hag insists he shuts out the noise when it comes to speculation on his future.

“I don’t put energy into this, if I’m judged fairly or not,” he said. “I know what we are doing here, why I’m here, to bring trophies, to also create economic value, so we are working on those and in a process you have setbacks.

“I look at this and can see it realistically, so I see the nuance, some comments miss that, but I can’t be bothered about it, can’t go into emotions.

“I see it realistic, rationale, and I’m only focussing on my team, to improve the team and individuals. That’s what I’m here for.”

United have had injury problems to deal with and the Dutchman says the home win over Manchester City last year was the only time he had a full squad to choose from.

“I don’t have any concern about what is said on the outside,” he said. “What concerns me is that in 18 months I have never had my favourite team on the pitch in 18 months.

“That concerns me. Because the players are injured. One time (I could pick my strongest XI) was against City last season in the home game.

“That was the only time where we had a full squad, where I can pick my team and in all the other games there was always an injury aspect where we have to deal with.

“That is normal in football but not so many as we have had. And I know when we have so many injuries as we have had and on crucial key positions, you can’t deliver the results you want to bring and that is OK.

“But that is my truth. And others can have a different truth. But I can’t put energy in that.”

The man in the opposite dugout should provide a timely reminder to Ten Hag that fortunes in football can change in an instant.

Sky Blues boss Mark Robins is widely acknowledged to be the man who saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job in 1990 when his third-round goal against Nottingham Forest ended a run of 11 games without a win.

United went on to win the FA Cup that year and the rest is history.

“Yes, I know (the story). In football, it’s sometimes like this, that a shot on the post or in the net makes a huge difference,” Ten Hag said.

“See 1966, eh? Only one time but it made them (England) world champions.”

Harry Kane scored his 40th Bayern Munich goal of the season in a 5-1 Bundesliga thumping of Union Berlin.

After reaching the Champions League semi-finals in midweek, Bayern took a step towards securing second place in the league with an emphatic victory.

Leon Goretzka opened the scoring and Kane curled in a free-kick just before half-time to take his league-leading tally to 33.

Thomas Muller scored twice in the second half, either side of a goal from Mathys Tel, with Union limited to a late consolation effort from Yorbe Vertessen.

Fourth-placed RB Leipzig needed a late winner from Lois Openda to claim a 2-1 victory at Heidenheim.

Benjamin Sesko put the visitors ahead late in the first half but Nikola Dovedan levelled before Openda secured the points five minutes from time.

Robin Hack’s hat-trick was not enough to prevent Borussia Monchengladbach from falling to a 4-3 defeat at Hoffenheim.

Hack thought he had earned a point for the visitors when he scored twice late on after Hoffenheim had taken a 3-1 lead with goals from Wout Weghorst, Grischa Promel and Ozan Kabak.

But Anton Stach found the winner for the home side in the first minute of injury time.

Koln’s hopes of survival were dealt a major blow by a 2-0 loss to bottom side Darmstadt, who appear doomed to relegation, while Bochum remain in trouble after a 1-0 loss to Wolfsburg.

Girona’s 4-1 victory over relegation-threatened Cadiz in LaLiga ensured they will be playing European football next season.

Early goals from Eric Garcia and Ivan Martin set the tone, with Artem Dovbyk and Portu making sure of the points in the second half.

Real Betis boosted their hopes of joining Girona with a 2-1 victory away at Valencia.

Ayoze Perez scored twice for the visitors – who sit eighth, two points behind Real Sociedad – either side of a Pepelu penalty.

Celta Vigo went behind at home to Las Palmas but responded brilliantly to claim a 4-1 victory that lifts them six points clear of the bottom three.

Juanma Herzog opened the scoring but Iago Aspas netted twice for Celta along with one each from Williot Swedberg and Anastasios Douvikas.

Rayo Vallecano also eased their relegation fears, Pep Chavarria and Isi Palazon scoring in the final 10 minutes in a 2-1 win over Osasuna.

In Serie A, struggling Empoli stunned defending champions Napoli 1-0, Alberto Cerri scoring the only goal in the fourth minute.

The big match at the bottom had a dramatic finish as Diego Coppola struck in injury time to earn Verona a 1-0 win over Udinese.

Rennes kept alive their hopes of sneaking into the European places in Ligue 1 by beating lowly Nantes 3-0 but they remain four points behind Lens, who defeated bottom side Clermont 1-0 thanks to an early penalty from Florian Sotoca.

Girona guaranteed they will be playing European football next season with a 4-1 thumping of struggling Cadiz in LaLiga.

After last weekend’s defeat by Atletico Madrid, third-placed Girona moved seven points clear of the capital side ahead of their meeting with Alaves on Sunday.

They took the lead in the ninth minute, Eric Garcia heading in Savio’s cross, and Yangel Herrera then saw a shot saved before Ivan Martin doubled the advantage with 22 minutes gone with a shot into the bottom corner.

Maxi Gomez had a header blocked as Cadiz sought a way back into the match but Girona nearly found a third just before half-time, Savio hitting the bar with a shot from outside the box.

The visitors, who are six points from safety, made changes for the second half and they came out positively, Chris Ramos twice going close while Lucas Pires also had a shot saved.

But Girona added a third in the 71st minute through Artem Dovbyk, whose shot found the bottom corner.

Cadiz kept pushing and got their goal in the 81st minute when Gonzalo Escalante found the net from close range following a corner.

But a minute later Girona struck again, this time Portu adding the final flourish on a historic night for the Catalan side.

Mark Robins insists his FA Cup reunion with Manchester United should not distract from his Coventry side’s own dreams of Wembley glory.

Robins was a predecessor to the fabled ‘Class of 92’ at Old Trafford, but the glory years of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville may have looked a lot different were it not for his efforts.

His match-winning goal in the third-round match against Nottingham Forest in 1990 is widely credited with keeping Sir Alex Ferguson in a job, and he was a late substitute as the Red Devils beat Crystal Palace in the final to kick off a trophy-laden golden era.

On Sunday he finds himself back at the national stadium in an FA Cup semi-final, with the fate of another United manager – the under-pressure Erik ten Hag – potentially in his hands.

Yet the 54-year-old has been happy to leave the past in the past and has not been bending his squad’s ears with tales of times gone by.

“Absolutely not. They were all born after 1990, so none of them (know about it),” he said on the eve of the game.

“I don’t speak about things like that. It doesn’t matter what I did, I just talk about them. This is totally different and management is totally different to playing.

“It’s not about me, it’s all about the players and the preparation and how they can execute against a top, top team.

“These players have got an aspiration to play in the Premier League so for me, for them, it’s a chance to see how they perform, regardless of anything else around the game.”

Robins lays no claim to the disputed version of events that paints him as the reason for sparing the most dominant manager of his generation the sack, but can still be tempted into some mild nostalgia.

“In fairness I was substitute in a cup final 34 years ago, a brilliant occasion for us as Manchester United. It was fantastic,” he said.

“There were only two substitutes in those days so to get on the bench in the first place, when there was a lot of talented individuals who didn’t make it, puts it into perspective. I’d just broken into the squad and played a part in the run up to the final.

“It’s part of my experience, it’s part of my footballing background, but it was a long, long time ago.”

One of the Sky Blues players players hoping to make some cup memories of their own is 18-goal striker Ellis Simms. A childhood Manchester City fan, Simms scored twice in the dramatic quarter-final victory over Wolves including the decisive strike in the 10th minute of added time.

He confirmed Robins has kept his own playing days firmly in the background in the build-up to a match that represents a career high for many in the Coventry squad, but believes his efforts in the dugout should be receiving greater attention.

“It was obviously a few years ago, probably before my time, but I’ve heard bits of it,” Simms said of Robins’ FA Cup success.

“He’s very humble, but we know he was a top player back in the day. Now it’s about us as players but he’s going to do everything he can to help us.

“He should get more praise than he does. Getting us this far in the competition, the majority of people didn’t think we would get this far so it’s massive credit to him.”

Tottenham’s top-four prospects have been dealt a blow after full-back Destiny Udogie was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Udogie has flourished in his first campaign in the Premier League and made 30 appearances in all competitions for Spurs.

The Italian defender has caught the eye with his ventures into midfield under Ange Postecoglou, but revealed in a post on Instagram that he had surgery on an unspecified injury and would not play again in the 2023-24 season.

 

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“An injury brings my season to an early end,” Udogie wrote.

“It doesn’t take away from how grateful I am to every person that has supported me this year.”

News of Udogie’s injury is untimely for a Tottenham team who lost 4-0 at Newcastle last weekend.

Spurs lost ground in the battle for Champions League qualification as a result and are currently three points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

Pep Guardiola admitted it was “unacceptable” that Manchester City’s 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea was scheduled for less than 72 hours after their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

City recovered from their European exit on Wednesday night – when they played extra-time against Real before losing on penalties – to edge past Mauricio Pochettino’s side, thanks to a goal in the 84th minute from Bernardo Silva, but they were clearly fatigued at Wembley.

Chelsea had more than enough chances to settle the semi-final in their favour but, as was the case on their last visit here against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, wasteful finishing was their downfall, with Nicolas Jackson the primary culprit.

Yet despite seeing his side reach their third FA Cup final in six seasons, Guardiola’s thoughts were dominated by what he considered to be poor scheduling of the match by the Football Association.

“I don’t understand how we survived today,” he said. “People cannot imagine what a punch in the face to be out of the Champions League in the way we are out.

“Why not give us one more day to arrive on Sunday because Coventry and (Manchester) United didn’t play in midweek? For broadcasters?

“OK. Don’t ask me after to do extra (media duties) because we won’t do it. It’s unacceptable to play today.

“What (the players) have done today is one of the greatest things I have seen from a group of players – 120 minutes against Real, you can prepare absolutely nothing.

“Four hours to arrive here and play the game in these conditions. I don’t understand how we survived.”

Three times 22-year-old Jackson had gilt-edged chances to put his team through to the final but each time he was foiled, most glaringly when he headed straight at goalkeeper Stefan Ortega from close range midway through the second half.

Unable to capitalise on their openings, Chelsea tired as the game wore into its final 10 minutes and they were hit with the winning goal for City, six minutes from time.

Jeremy Doku slipped a pass through for Kevin De Bruyne bursting forward down the left of the penalty area and – after running it to the byline – he pulled the ball back centrally.

Djordje Petrovic got a foot to it but could not prevent it from reaching Silva, whose first-time effort at the back post pinged off Marc Cucurella as he dived in to block and span beyond the goalkeeper to win it.

City will play either Manchester United or Coventry in the final on May 25 as they look to retain the trophy they won last season.

Guardiola was pessimistic about the demands made on his players by an increasingly-congested schedule being lessened in the future and criticised what he considered an inflexible approach from competition organisers.

“In this country, they don’t change anything,” he said. “If I pretend it will change next season, it won’t happen. But don’t ask me to make meetings. I’m busy. I have to prepare games every three days.

“It’s unsustainable. We have to perform for the fans, for the prestige of the club. How? I just want to protect my players.

“I don’t have to run. I do this for the players. It is unacceptable.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino reflected on a game that, despite their chances, he felt his side had not done enough to win.

“The most important thing is to be clinical and not concede,” he said. “Even if today we competed well, I cannot say we were the better side.”

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