Home Sport Wasteful Blues gift City passage to FA Cup final

Wasteful Blues gift City passage to FA Cup final

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Pep Guardiola’s City side were second best for long periods of the semi-final, but Chelsea wasted a string of chances before City’s Silva delivered the knockout blow six minutes from full-time.

Bernardo Silva (centre-left) of Manchester City celebrates with teammates after scoring during the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea FC, in London, Britain, 20 April 2024. Picture: EPA, NEIL HALL

BERNARDO Silva fired Manchester City back into the FA Cup final as the Portugal midfielder’s late strike sealed the holders’ 1-0 semi-final win against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday night.

Pep Guardiola’s City side were second best for long periods of the semi-final, but Chelsea wasted a string of chances before Silva delivered the knockout blow six minutes from full-time.

Shaken by their Champions League quarter-final loss to Real Madrid on penalties in midweek, City took a while to shake off the gloom from the end of their treble bid.

The team was hampered by the absence of Norway striker Erling Haaland after he suffered a knock against Real Madrid midweek, with Julian Alvarez unable to make an impact as his replacement.

City were bailed out by Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson’s profligacy, and Guardiola will hope the hard-fought success provides a timely lift as they chase a Premier League and FA Cup double. City face Manchester United or Coventry City, who meet on Sunday, in the final on May 25 and will retain the Premier League title if they win their last six games.

It will be City’s 13th final in the competition and potentially a repeat of last year’s 2-1 win over United in the Wembley Manchester derby.

Beaten by Liverpool in the League Cup final in February, Chelsea’s wait to win their first domestic trophy since the 2018 FA Cup goes on for another season. It was a bitter blow for Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino, who has endured after a difficult first season in charge and remains without silverware in England.

The semi-final was billed as in-form Chelsea forward Cole Palmer’s chance to punish his old club for selling him to the Blues in September.

Guardiola said Palmer was asking to leave City for two years before he eventually joined Chelsea, where he has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season, including 11 in his last six games.

Palmer, who scored four times in Monday’s 6-0 league rout of Everton, was a constant threat for Chelsea, but ultimately it was his team’s lack of killer instinct that proved decisive.

Palmer’s pin-point pass sent Jackson racing into the City area early on, but his strike lacked the accuracy to beat Stefan Ortega in a miss that foreshadowed Chelsea’s fate.

Jackson wasted a golden opportunity to give Chelsea the goal their dominance deserved. Enzo Fernandez’s pass split the City defence, but Jackson opted to go around Ortega rather than shoot and the chance was gone as Nathan Ake scurried back to clear.

Playing with more purpose and quality than City, Pochettino’s team threatened again as Palmer cleverly shimmied past Rodri for a low drive from 12 metres that was well saved by Ortega.

It was the first time lethargic City had failed to muster a first-half shot on target since a game against Everton in February.

Jackson, in the midst of a terrible debut season, was put clean through on goal by Conor Gallagher immediately after the interval.

It went on until City introduced Jeremy Doku, whose presence lifted City as they stole the victory in the 84th minute.

Advancing with intent towards the Chelsea area, Doku slipped a pass to Kevin De Bruyne, whose low cross was pushed out by Petrovic to Silva for a close-range finish that deflected home as Guardiola punched the air in relief.

AFP

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