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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Liverpool into FA Cup final after pulsating 3-2 win over Manchester City at Wembley Stadium

By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Man City 2 v Liverpool 3

Attn: 73,793

Liverpool cruised to a relatively easy FA Cup semi-final victory over arch rival Manchester City at Wembley Stadium this afternoon, but City almost turned the tie on it’s head with a later rally.

A combination of fatigue from City’s exertions in Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, some surprising selection decisions by head coach Pep Guardiola and a howler of a mistake by City goalkeeper Zack Steffen saw the Reds run out 3-2 winners, having led 3-0 at half-time.

A Jack Grealish strike and a late Bernardo Silva tap-in set the pulses of the Liverpool contingent needlessly racing.

With both teams playing it cagy at the start, with defences dominating, it took a regulation corner on 10 minutes to open the score.

An out swinging corner by Luis Diaz on the left was headed in by Ibrahima Konate, who easily out jumped Nathan Ake. The ball looping into the far corner of Steffen’s goal.

The insistence of playing the ball from the back, may look terrific when no one is challenging the players, but when the goalkeeper tries it and then attempts to look cool rather than professional, then that’s when errors occur and footballing disasters are created.

And so on 17 minutes City number two stopper Steffen had the ball at his feet on the goal line.

He looked terrific, he looked cool. He failed to look at Sadie Mane charging down on him.

Realising too late, he took a soft touch of the ball. Mane intercepted and the ball smashed into the back of his neck.

Steffen was crestfallen, he wanted the Wembley pitch to open up and swallow him.

One suspects the City fans behind him might want their own retribution, but ultimately the fault came from the insistence of playing ineffective balls from the back, and that falls firmly on Guardiola and his tactics.

With the clock ticking into added time, Liverpool cut the City defence apart, leaving Mane with a difficult sliced volley to contend with. But Steffen allowed the ball to inch past him and his left post to make it 3-0.

There were no changes by either side, but City in their first attack on 48 minutes scored when an excellent saw Gabriel Jesus set up Grealish, who thumped home a left footer past Alisson Becker to make it 3-1.

Jesus had a brilliant chance to snatch another goal back on 70 minutes as he beat the Liverpool offside trap, and raced clear.

But the Brazil striker faced his countryman and it was Becker who came out on top, deflecting Jesus’s right-footed curler for a corner.

Mohammed Salah could have ended City’s resistance when a weak Oleksandr Zinchenko header fell short and the Egyptian nipped in but he could only clip an angled ball into the side-netting.

With a minute left in the clock, City substitute Riyad Mahrez slide the ball under Becker on the byline and Silva tapped home.

Raheem Sterling forced a save by Becker as the unthinkable comeback was almost realised.

Liverpool then had a couple of chances to finish it off but the whistle came too late for City and Liverpool will face either Chelsea or Crystal Palace in the final.

The all-London affair takes place at Wembley Stadium tomorrow.

Read Yann Tear’s Talking Points here

Teams: Man City, Steffen, Stones, Ake, Sterling, Jesus, Grealish, Zinchenko, Silva, Fernandinho, Cancelo, Foden

Subs Ederson, Dias, Gundogan, Laporte, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Delap, Lavia

Liverpool, Becker, Tavares, Van Dijk, Konate, Alcantara, Keita, Mane, Salah, Diaz, Robertson, Alexander-Arnold

Subs: Kelleher, Milner, Firmino, Gomez, Henderson, Jones, Jota, Tsimikas, Matip

Referee: Michael Oliver


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