Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley ensured Manchester City’s quest for a treble continued with a 3-0 win.
A resilient Blades defence was undone shortly before the break, Mahrez dispatching from the penalty spot after Daniel Jebbison’s rash challenge on Bernardo Silva.
United’s hopes of a second-half comeback were wiped away by the Algerian, with just six minutes separating his second and third efforts.
Also through to the Champions League semi-finals and five points behind Arsenal, whom they face on Wednesday, with a game in hand in the Premier League title race, City remain firmly in the hunt on three fronts.
Super from the spot @Mahrez22 #EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/UthBH9osLd
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) April 22, 2023
The Blades had a glorious opportunity inside 90 seconds, John Egan flicking a header from a corner that found Iliman Ndiaye in space but he could only fire straight at Stefan Ortega.
Erling Haaland then had the ball in the back of the net after 15 minutes, smashing home from distance, but his celebrations were halted as the whistle had already blown for a foul, with Julian Alvarez then forcing a diving save from Wes Foderingham with his long-range curler.
An impressive defensive performance from the Championship side was undone four minutes before the break, Jebbison’s clumsy challenge on Silva handing Mahrez an opportunity from the penalty spot, which he duly tucked into the bottom-right corner.
City’s second came on the hour mark, Mahrez winning the ball at the halfway line from Max Lowe and marching straight through the Blades defence, which backed away and gifted him space to run into.
Mahrez completed his hat-trick six minutes later, firing home after Jack Grealish’s cutback to put the result beyond any doubt and book City’s spot in June’s final.
What does it mean? City conquest continues
Pep Guardiola may continue to downplay City’s chance of a winning the treble this season but it would take a brave man to bet against his side.
City never had to break a sweat in sealing a place in the showpiece against either Manchester United or Brighton and Hove Albion.
It caps off what has been a stellar week for City, who progressed past Bayern Munich in the Champions League and saw title rivals Arsenal slip up against Southampton in the Premier League.
Though overshadowed by many of his attacking colleagues at City, the FA Cup is Mahrez’s favoured competition with his hat-trick taking him to 11 direct goal involvements (nine goals, two assists) in his last nine matches.
Mahrez’s treble was the first FA Cup semi-final hat-trick at Wembley and the first at this stage overall in the competition since Alex Dawson for Manchester United against Fulham in 1958.
A tormenter of clubs across England and Europe this season, Sheffield United would have been relieved to have seen Haaland’s involvement at Wembley heavily reduced.
The striker had just 12 touches of the ball, fewer than any starter for either team, with only one attempt, which was off target, during the game.
City host Arsenal in what will billed as a potential title decider, while Sheffield United can seal promotion to the top-flight on the same day against West Brom.
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