LONDON: Liverpool moved to the FA Cup final with a 3-2 win against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konaté rose highest to thump home a powerful header from a corner within the opening 10 minutes, breaking the deadlock.
And City’s afternoon got much worse as goalkeeper Zack Steffen took too much time on the ball, allowing Sadio Mané to sneak in and dislodge the American international to double the advantage.
Mané rifled in at the near post past a despairing Steffen on the stroke of halftime, extending Liverpool’s advantage to three goals.
Just when it looked like City’s season was over, Jack Grealish scored minutes after the interval to give his team hope, and Bernardo Silva tapped in from close range in the 90th minute to guarantee a tense finish.
It wasn’t enough, though, as Liverpool advanced to the final, where it will face either Chelsea or Crystal Palace, who will play on Sunday.
Mané later told the BBC that the day had been “extraordinary.”
“We were up against one of the world’s top squads. Winning a game like this, especially in a semifinal, is a huge accomplishment “he stated
“We were ecstatic to win and go to the final. We got off to a great start, with everyone on the attack — the goalie made a mistake for my first goal, but I believe we forced him to make it. That is our approach, and I believe it makes a difference.”
The best go to war.
In the London sun, the red and blue are stunning.
Two of the world’s top teams face off for a position in the final of football’s oldest competition, a week after their last meeting.
There could not be a more ideal situation for neutrals: a crowded stadium, great weather, and some of football’s biggest names on display.
And, like their dramatic 2-2 tie the previous Sunday, the game got off to a fast start.
The first goal came via a more agricultural path, with both players bouncing the ball around with zip and vim.
Konaté, a Liverpool defender, extended his hot streak of goalscoring with a header from his team’s first corner of the game, his third in as many games.
The goal enraged Liverpool fans, and as City resumed play, the air was heavy with the scent of flares, and the sunlight was stained crimson as Liverpool fans jumped in joy.
Only eight minutes later, the red end of Wembley was ecstatic.
As City attempted to play out of defence, Steffen, City’s cup goalkeeper, lingered just a touch too long on the ball, allowing Mané to sneak in and tackle the ball home.
The situation was eerily identical to their Premier League match last week, when regular starter Ederson dallied on the ball but was just able to nip the ball away in time ahead of the onrushing attacker.
Manchester City, who had been stunned by two goals, was eventually able to find a footing in the game as the reigning Premier League winners fought to get back into it.
However, the pressure created space, which Mané took advantage of to increase Liverpool’s lead on the stroke of halftime.
An opportunity ajar for the Senegal star to hammer the ball home was created by some exquisite play between Liverpool’s forwards, with Steffen given little chance.
Liverpool was on fire and didn’t want the halftime whistle to arrive when it did.
City had a far better start to the second half with manager Pep Guardiola’s comments echoing in their ears.
After some good movement by Gabriel Jesus created a shooting opportunity, England international Jack Grealish rocketed his finish into the top corner.
After a disappointing first 45 minutes, the goal fired the City players — and supporters — into life, with their assaults appearing considerably more menacing.
Jesus had a chance to get City within a goal with a well-timed run that had him through on goal, but his Brazil teammate Alisson denied him superbly.
Despite the fact that Man City pushed, Liverpool had the best of the opportunities, with Mohamed Salah unable to convert any of his attempts.
With four minutes of additional time remaining, a brilliant touch and run from replacement Riyad Mahrez provided Silva with the simplest finish to leave City behind by just one goal.
With one of the game’s final touches, Raheem Sterling had an opportunity to score against his former team and be the hero, but he could only shoot straight at Alisson.
Despite some wild scenes in the City box, Liverpool held on to reach the final, ensuring that a historic quadruple — the Premier League championship, the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the League Cup — remains a possibility.
So far, Liverpool has won the League Cup, finished second in the Premier League (one point behind Manchester City), advanced to the Champions League semifinals, and is now in the FA Cup final.
When asked if the quadruple was a goal for them, Mané replied that it was a “dream.”
“We still have a lot of games to play, and we’ll give it our all — it’s our dream, and we’ll fight for it.”