Manchester City kept their hopes of completing the treble alive as Riyad Mahrez bagged a hat-trick to book the Citizens’ place in the FA Cup final.
Sheffield United made a decent start to the FA Cup semi-final, as they looked to frustrate the reigning English champions, who had put out a relatively full-strength side that included Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish.
Despite their dominance, Manchester City struggled to break down the South Yorkshire side, though were finally afforded a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock just before the interval. Daniel Jebbison brought down Bernardo Silva in the box, before Riyad Mahrez stepped up, sent Wes Fodderingham the wrong way and tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
The Premier League side continued where they left off after the break, and in the 61st minute, they doubled their advantage and Mahrez doubled his personal tally. The Algerian pinched the ball in the middle of the park, before strolling through the entire Sheffield United defence and coolly slotting home.
Five minutes later, the 32-year-old sealed his hat-trick, Jack Grealish threading a perfectly placed pass in between two Sheffield United defenders, with Mahrez stroking a lovely first-time finish past Foderingham from 12 yards to become the first player to score an FA semi-final treble since 1958.
City had chances to extend their lead as they continued their domination, ending the game with 79 per cent possession, speaking after the game Pep Guardiola was delighted with his side’s dominant display.
“Excellent performance, we cannot forget three days ago we were in Munich,” he told ITV.
“It took a lot to be here, to try it. We suffered in some actions with long balls. In the end with the quality from Riyad [Mahrez] and the rest of the guys we did it.
“The quality of Riyad we have seen for many years in this country, also with Leicester. [He is a] huge mentality competitor. Huge ambition to score goals. Scoring at the end of the first half was so important.
“The question is not to be in this stage of the competition, it is where we came from fighting for many years fighting for the titles. Being there every year means the mentality of the club – not just the players – is there.
“It is an honour to be in the FA Cup final on 3 June. We will be here. Today we played really good, everyone was serious.”
City will play either Manchester United or Brighton in the final in June.