Man City 3-0 Sheffield United: Mahrez hat-trick sends City to final

Manchester City 3-0 Sheffield United: Riyad Mahrez’s HAT-TRICK secures his side’s place in the FA Cup final, after Blades struggle at Wembley… with Pep Guardiola’s Treble charge set to remain on course

  • Manchester City secured their spot in the FA Cup final with a win on Saturday 
  • Pep Guardiola’s side stormed to a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United at Wembley 
  • Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick for the Premier League outfit 

 They’re hard task masters at Manchester City. Miss a penalty and you’re sacked. No matter that you’re chasing down Dixie Dean’s historic record of 63 goals in a season. Erling Haaland failed in midweek against Bayern for the first time this season and he was stood down. And up stepped Riyad Mahrez.

Indeed, who even needs 48-goal Haaland anyway? Mahrez converted the penalty, went on to score a hat-trick. And that’s the kind of ruthlessness that keeps Manchester City’s treble very much alive. 

They will play the FA Cup final here in June. A week later they may be in Istanbul for a Champions League final. More pertinently, on Wednesday they face title challengers Arsenal. A win there and you would feel a huge step would have been taken to that historic achievement.

This hurdle en route to the pantheon was cleared with the ease with which most people anticipated. Not that Sheffield United, who are likely soon to join City in the Premier League, which will be their real season’s goal, should be ashamed of that.

Indeed, this was a better display that many Premier League side put up against City. They harried and hustled City for 42 minutes to the point of frustration. They allowed those of us watching to believe something extraordinary might occur.

Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick for Man City to secure their place in the FA Cup final

The Algerian winger opened the scoring from the spot against Sheffield United on Saturday

Pep Guardiola’s took one step closer to achieving a historic Treble winning season, this year

Yet it was never likely to be. City are a team on a mission right now. The excitement of the next six weeks will be seeing where that ends up. How they would love it to emulate the Manchester United side of 1999 with Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. Right now, no-one seems able to stop them. The momentum seems irresistible.


Man City (3-2-4-1): Oretga 6; Walker 7, Akanji 7, Laporte 6.5; Gomez,7 Gundogan 7 (Phillips 75 6); Mahrez 8.5, Silva 7 (Lewis 82), Alvarez 6.5, Grealish 7 (Palmer 68); Haaland 7 (Foden 68 6)

Subs: Ederson, Dias, Stones, Rodrigo, De Bruyne,

Sheff United (5-3-2): Foderingham 7; Baldock 6 (Bogle 75 6), Ahmedhadzic 7 (Coulibaly 75 6), Egan 7, Robinson 7, Lowe 5; Berge 7 (Basham 75 6), Norwood 7, Fleck 6.5 (Sharp 68 6); Ndiaye 6, Jebbison 5 (McBurnie 58 6)

Subs: Davies, Clark, Arblaster, Brooks

Ref Stuart Atwell 7

Better teams than Sheffield United stand in their way but that isn’t to say the Yorkshire team didn’t play their part here at Wembley. It was just perhaps a shame that the moment for them came after 88 seconds. Because you know against Manchester City there will may only be one. And to play another 88 and half minutes knowing that maybe you should have scored, could have scored, is a soul destroying experience.

And it was a huge moment. It just perhaps came so quickly that they weren’t quite ready for it. Manchester City had conceded an early corner; Oliver Norwood swung it in and John Egan got a firm header on the ball, which bounced and fell to the feet of Iliman Ndiaye six yards out. 

And that was the point at which the masses of Sheffield United fans could believe. City were exposed, only Stefan Ortega stood between Ndiaye and goal. What sport might Sheffield United make of this game if they took an unexpected lead?

Yet Ndiaye couldn’t quite move his feet quick enough to get a powerful strike on it. He did get his shot away but Ortega dived to smother the effort. And the moment withered away just like that.

And isn’t that Sheffield United had no more forays after that. Sander Berge burst down the right on 17 minutes and past his man. His cross looked dangerous but there was Sheffield-born Kyle Walker to head away. Daniel Jebbison and Ndiaye both burst away at times but were smothered by light blue defenders.

And it wasn’t that Sheffield United ever gave up. It’s just that precious clear sight of goal, once wasted, doesn’t return. Instead, they resumed to what was always going to be a precarious rear guard action.

Mahrez and Erling Haaland celebrate after the winger’s opening goal at Wembley

The Blades will be disappointed they couldn’t pose more of a threat to Pep Guardiola’s side

And they performed it with aplomb, Egan cajoling and organising as Anel Ahmedhodzic and Jack Robinson did their level best to hold the hordes of City attackers at bay. Corners were cleared, tackles were made and men were tracked.

Haaland did have the ball in the net with an astonishing 35-yard effort strike so powerfully along the ground that you suspect goalkeeper Wes Foderinham wouldn’t have got near it if he tried. It was the kind of goal strikers score in comic books, not in real life. 

But that fits, as by now it’s clear Haaland is more comic book hero than actual human being. However, ref Stuard Atwell had blown for a foul and it wouldn’t stand. Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez tried curling shots from outside the box, the latter being tipped away by Foderingham. Corner followed corner. But Sheffield United held firm.

As such, the manner of their undoing was frustrating in the extreme. Danger had passed when Bernardo Silva air shot at a cross, a rare moment of technical failure. Yet Daniel Jebbison, back to help out the defence, panicked. The ball was bouncing around Silva so maybe he feared another strike, though in reality there was little threat and no clear-cut chance, Still, in Jebbison dived. 

Maybe he caught a fragment of the ball, but he also took a substantial portion of Silva’s legs away and as such, once VAR had done its thing and checked, Mahrez stepped up to the spot. Mahrez didn’t make the same mistake as Haaland, striking the ball into the right hand corner with comparative ease for 1-0 on 42 minutes.

You felt that had Sheffield United made it to half time, maybe there was hope, a chance to go again. It wasn’t that the game was immediately game at 1-0. But it was on the hour when Max Lowe found himself caught in possession by Mahrez, who simply made a bee-line for goal from 45 yards out, running straight on and through centre halves Egan and Robinson to slide the ball past Foderingham.

The Parisian-born Algerian was now on a hat-trick and swiftly completed the task on 66 minutes, Grealish cutting in from the right and finding Mahrez, who swept the ball in for 3-0. At which point off came Erling Haaland and Grealish as Guardiola prepared for bigger test aheads. 

Arsenal, Real Madrid and either Brighton or Manchester United beckon. Some of the biggest names in European football are there to be put away. Right now, you would be foolish to bet against them.


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