How Manchester City reached first FA Cup final for four years

By Sports Desk May 31, 2023

Manchester City face arch-rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how Pep Guardiola’s side made it to Wembley.

Man City 4 Chelsea 0 (third round, Jan 8)

City sailed through with surprising ease as Chelsea put up little resistance at the Etihad Stadium just three days after a hard-fought Premier League clash between the sides at Stamford Bridge.

A superb Riyad Mahrez free-kick, a Julian Alvarez penalty and a Phil Foden effort effectively wrapped up the contest in the first half.

Mahrez completed the scoring from the spot late on.

Man City 1 Arsenal 0 (fourth round, Jan 27)

City edged a tight and entertaining game that lived up to its pre-match billing as a heavyweight contest.

A tidy finish from defender Nathan Ake, placing a shot into the bottom corner after good work from Jack Grealish, settled the tie in the 64th minute.

Bristol City 0 Man City 3 (fifth round, Feb 28)

Foden struck twice as City saw off their Championship hosts with little alarm.

The England midfielder opened the scoring after seven minutes when he turned home a low Mahrez ball at the back post and made victory certain with a deflected effort after the break.

Kevin De Bruyne added a brilliant third with a low curling shot from outside the area.

Man City 6 Burnley 0 (quarter-finals, Mar 18)

City gave their former captain Vincent Kompany a hero’s reception on his return to the Etihad – but showed his Championship-leading side little mercy on the field.

The prolific Erling Haaland, who had smashed five past RB Leipzig just days earlier, helped himself to a hat-trick as the Clarets were put to the sword.

Alvarez weighed in with a double and Cole Palmer also got on the scoresheet in the rout.

Man City 3 Sheff Utd 0 (semi-finals, Apr 22)

Another promotion-challenging Championship side failed to lay a glove on City as Guardiola’s men booked a return to the final for the first time in four years after three successive semi-final defeats.

Mahrez took centre-stage by scoring the first FA Cup semi-final hat-trick since 1958 and the first at Wembley.

The Blades were made to rue missing a gilt-edged early chance through Iliman Ndiaye as Mahrez grabbed his first from the spot, ran through the defence for a fine solo second and swept in to complete his treble.

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    Casemiro scored one and provided another as Manchester United began their defence of the Carabao Cup with a straightforward victory against lifeless Crystal Palace.

    A lot has happened in the seven months since securing the first trophy of the Erik ten Hag era – and the Red Devils’ first silverware in six years – against Newcastle at Wembley.

    Casemiro opened the scoring under the arch and found the net again in Tuesday’s 3-0 third-round triumph against Palace as United look to put their poor start to the season behind them.

    There were a combined 14 changes for an Old Trafford meeting that will be repeated in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, when Eagles boss Roy Hodgson will demand a vastly improved display.

    United kept Palace at arm’s length in a one-sided first half that brought a pair of quickfire goals shortly after injury had ended Dean Henderson’s debut against his former club.

    First good team play ended with Alejandro Garnacho turning in Diogo Dalot’s cutback, before Casemiro headed home his fourth goal of the campaign from the returning Mason Mount’s corner.

    Anthony Martial rifled home from the Brazil international’s cross in the 55th minute as United rubber-stamped their place in Wednesday’s fourth-round draw by following up their much-needed win at Burnley.

    The hosts were in control from the outset at an impressively full Old Trafford, where the best Palace could initially muster was a dangerous early cross cut out by Harry Maguire on his first club start of the season.

    United patiently passed and probed in the Palace half, although they had not created a clear-cut chance by the time their former goalkeeper Henderson went off injured on his debut.

    Sam Johnstone replaced his fellow United academy graduate in the 19th minute and was beaten just two minutes later.

    A cross-field pass to the right ended with the underlapping Dalot bursting forwards and cutting back to Garnacho, who battled to stretch and turn home.

    United smelt blood and immediately hunted a potentially tie-settling second.

    Dalot met a fantastic diagonal ball with a strike on Johnstone’s goal, before a last-gasp Chris Richards challenge on Facundo Pellistri prevented another effort on goal.

    Mount sent over the resulting corner from the right and Casemiro all too easily shrugged off Jeffrey Schlupp to powerfully head home in the 27th minute.

    The goals took the sting out of a tie that already had an exhibition vibe about it, with Palace offering precious little in terms of threat as the hosts showed flashes of quality.

    Full debutant Sofyan Amrabat had impressed as a makeshift left-back and stepped up into midfield at half-time after Victor Lindelof came on for Mount.

    Marc Guehi replaced Jesurun Rak-Sakyi as Palace made a change of their own, but the England defender’s introduction could not prevent Palace conceding again.

    Casemiro picked up a loose ball and swung a fine right-footed cross to the far post, where Martial got behind Nathaniel Clyne to slam home in front of the Stretford End.

    Both sides made changes with an eye on this weekend’s reunion, including United handing teenager Dan Gore his debut.

    “We’ve had a shot,” chanted the Palace fans after Clyne lashed over and soon had a shot on target to sing about after Andre Onana stopped Jean-Philippe Mateta.

    Jonny Evans’ header from a corner was denied by a point-blank Johnstone save as the match wound down, while Onana stopped Mateta again before 18-year-old introduction David Ozoh dragged wide.

    Lindelof and Garnacho stung the palms as Johnstone ensured things did not get any worse for the south Londoners.

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    Inter Milan head coach Simone Inzaghi thanked his stalwarts for embracing the slew of new recruits at San Siro as the Nerazzurri blaze a trail at the top of Serie A.

    There was some concern that the formula which saw Inter go all the way to an unexpected Champions League final and claim a creditable third place in the league might be addled by the transfer overhaul that took place over the summer.

    Although European stars including Benjamin Pavard and Marcus Thuram were thrown into the mix, many clubs have found it is not always easy to create a winning team in the short term based solely on the quality of talent recruited.

    Inzaghi told a press conference: “Our squad has undergone a lot of changes, but the players who were already here have been important. They’ve helped the newcomers – however experienced they are – understand how to adapt to the Inter world.

    “I see real willingness: everyone has been working excellently and in a really determined fashion since July.”

    Inter host Sassuolo on Wednesday having thumped city rivals AC Milan 5-1, drawn away at Real Sociedad and squeezed past Empoli 1-0 on Sunday, with a trip to Salernitana on the schedule for the upcoming weekend.

    “It’ll be our fourth match in 10 days, with many players having also been away on international duty and done plenty of travelling,” Inzaghi added.

    “However, I’m lucky enough to coach a competitive squad. We still need to train this afternoon and then I’ll make my choices.”

    On the threat posed by Sassuolo, the former Lazio striker said: “They come into this game having beaten Juventus thanks to a really good display and they have a excellent coach who has his team really well organised.

    “We need to be determined as we look to produce a big performance.”

    His opposite number in the Neroverdi dugout, Alessio Dionisi, led his side to a 4-2 triumph over Juve last time out and told reporters: “The victory has given us awareness, and we obtained a great result against a better team.

    “We know what we did on Sunday will not be enough against Inter because right now they are superior. They are superior to everyone.

    “We must try to be the best possible version of Sassuolo, we made it on Saturday and we must do the same tomorrow against a team that seems unplayable.

    “We’ll need courage and personality.”

  • Leicester still have Premier League quality – Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders Leicester still have Premier League quality – Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders

    Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders believes they will take on a Premier League quality team in Leicester in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

    The Championship leaders, who look set to vie for an immediate return to the top flight under new coach Enzo Maresca, will make the trip to Anfield for a third-round tie.

    Lijnders took over the hotseat from Jurgen Klopp for the pre-match press conference, and he said: “We know we’re going to play against a team that has a lot of individual quality.

    “It shows how they are doing in the league. A real clear offensive game idea, very quick installation of this idea with the coach Enzo – he does an unbelievable job. I think each player could play in the Premier League.

    “It will be really hard for us to get control of their key players and at the same time put them under pressure. As always in each game we will focus on ourselves.

    “Of course we will make changes but we want to put our game into place, we want to be dominant, we want to be in their half of the pitch.”

    The game will come too soon for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who Lijnders said “looked outstanding” on his return to training on Monday following a hamstring injury.

    Midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who is yet to make an appearance this season, is back on the grass but is working individually.

    There could be another chance, though, for 17-year-old winger Ben Doak, who started last week’s Europa League match in Linz.

    Lijnders cited his Dutch heritage while discussing Doak’s potential, saying: “He is young so a lot of things can happen.

    “I had the privilege to grow up in Holland and we have this culture, a long tactical culture of Johan Cruyff. This idea of having the wingers on the outside, they can create, can really disorganise the opposition, use the speed.

    “Then, if you get a young winger from Scotland but only 17 years old and he has this capacity to create and to reach the final line with individual movement, it’s nice to see.

    “The good thing about Ben in my opinion is he comes into a squad with so much senior authority. He will never make a sidestep, the boys will already tell him.

    “He has this great low gravity and that’s how he can control the ball better. So he’s a really interesting player but loads to come, he needs to mature, he needs to listen to Robbo (Andy Robertson), to Mo Salah, to all these guys that are trying to help him.

    “And I think it’s really good for the older players to have young players with this hunger. That combination is what we always had and that’s how we want to construct the squad.”

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