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  • By Charlie Stong at Wembley Stadium

City's treble dream alive and well as Mahrez hat-trick sees off Blades in FA Cup semi-final


Manchester City 3 (Mahrez 43 (pen), 61, 66)

Sheffield United 0

Att: 69,603


A Riyad Mahrez hat-trick sent Manchester City into the FA Cup final as they brushed aside Sheffield United 3-0 at Wembley this afternoon.


The Blades defended deeply and extremely well for 43 minutes, but once Mahrez’s penalty had put the Citizens ahead a couple of minutes before half-time, the writing was on the wall.


Two goals inside four minutes shortly after the hour mark confirmed the win – and kept alive City’s now realistic dreams of a treble to match that of their fierce rivals United in 1999.


As expected City controlled possession in the opening stages, but the first chance fell to the Blades, Oliver Norwood’s corner was flicked on to Illiman Ndiaye, whose effort was saved by Stefan Moreno in the City goal.


Erling Haaland had the ball in the net after 15 minutes, an outrageous half-volley from 30 yards which flew past Wes Foderingham before he could blink. The whistle had already gone for an infringement, but it was a warning to United, a strike from a forward of outrageous talent.


City’s first half-chance came midway through the first half. Mahrez’s shot from the left needed more bend and ended up flying well wide.


But within a minute Julian Alvarez drew the first save from Foderingham - at full stretch after the Argentinian’s effort from outside the box.


Kyle Walker’s pull-back was then helped on by Bernardo Silva, whose effort was deflected just wide of the post.


But 43 minutes of tireless work by the Yorkshiremen was undone by one rash challenge from Daniel Jebbison on Silva in the box. Jebbison swung a leg at the ball, missed, and got Silva. Referee Stuart Attwell had his easiest decision of the day in pointing to the spot.


Mahrez, taking the spot-kick ahead of Haaland who had missed from 18 yards against Bayern in midweek, sent Foderingham the wrong way to give City the lead.


The Sky Blues started the second half where they had left off in the first, dominating both possession and territory.


And they duly made it 2-0 shortly after the hour mark. Mahrez stole the ball on the halfway line and headed towards the United goal, and as the Blades defenders became preoccupied with the movement of Haaland, their defence simply, allowing Mahrez to run through the middle and stroke the ball past Foderingham.


That knocked the stuffing out of the Blades, who were soon three down, Mahrez completing his hat-trick by tucking home Jack Grealish’s cross from the left, a more one-sided semi-final you are unlikely to see.


City face either United or Brighton in the FA Cup final, are up against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final and welcome Arsenal to the Etihad on Wednesday in the Premier League’s showdown game.


Win those three and Pep Guardiola’s side will be in touching distance of United’s treble bragging rights.



Teams:

Manchester City: Moreno, Walker, Gundogan (Phillips, 75), Haaland (Foden, 67), Grealish (Palmer,67), Laporte, Alvarez, Silva (Lewis 81), Gomez, Akanji, Mahrez

Sheffield United: Foderingham, Baldock (Bogle, 75), Fleck (Sharp, 66), Berge (Basham, 75), Egan, Lowe, Ahmedhodzic (Coulibaly, 75), Norwood, Robinson, Ndiaye, Jebbison (McBurnie, 58)

Referee: Stuart Attwell


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