Liverpool FC survived a late scare to reach the FA Cup final after beating Manchester City 3-2 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
It was a classic encounter between the clubs yesterday, but this semi-final was decided in a one-sided first 45 minutes by ruthless finishing and Manchester City mistakes, as Liverpool took a 3-0 lead.
A reshuffled Manchester City side was unable to recover as Liverpool, having won the Carabao Cup, are now in the FA Cup final too – as well as the last four of the Champions League, while sitting second in the Premier League.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who had Kyle Walker injured and couldn’t start Kevin de Bruyne, preferred Zack Steffen to Ederson in goal, a decision that backfired spectacularly.
After nine minutes, Ibrahima Konate had already put Liverpool in front when Steffen, trying to replicate Ederson’s efforts in the league match between these two teams, miscontrolled in his area, allowing Sadio Mane to pounce.
Liverpool sprang to life
After a brilliant Liverpool build-up, mane fired home a crisp volley to put Jurgen Klopp’s side in complete control at the break, but Jack Grealish pulled one back early in the second half and keeper Alisson twice saved vitally from Gabriel Jesus as this semi-final sprang to life.
Despite a late comeback from Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, Liverpool will face either Chelsea or Crystal Palace in the final, which takes place at Wembley Stadium on 14 May.
Liverpool’s win keeps them in contention to make history – as no team in English football has won the league title, the two main domestic cup competitions, and become champions of Europe in the same season.
Klopp’s side won with intensity and ruthlessness in the opening half, as City’s revamped side looked off the pace and was unable to cope with City’s power.
As a result, Konate scored his third header in three starts, while Mane’s alertness would never allow Steffen to get away with his hesitation as he attempted to maintain possession in the six-yard area.
Klopp delighted with his players
Last Sunday, when Diogo Jota bore down on Ederson, the attacker showed the calmness and expertise to escape almost on his goal line, but Steffen showed no such skills or composure and paid a heavy price as he was caught.
While Mane led the charge for Liverpool, Thiago was dominant in midfield. His clever pass allowed Mane to volley past Steffen at his near post in the closing moments of the first half.
Klopp was delighted with his players’ performance at the conclusion, though he must be concerned that they allowed Manchester City back into the game through Grealish’s goal, conceded two clear chances to Jesus, and had to contend with four minutes of stoppage time after Silva struck.
Liverpool, though, deserved to reach the final and will be a formidable opponent either for Chelsea or Crystal Palace, depending on the result of the second semi-final.