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FA Cup

Silva strikes late as Man City sink Chelsea to reach FA Cup final

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Manchester City s Bernardo Silva, center, celebrates on full time of the English FA Cup semifinal soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Manchester City won 1-0. AP

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

Pep Guardiola’s 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 against Real Madrid on penalties in midweek, City took a while to shake off the gloom from the end of their treble bid.

They were hampered by the absence of Norway striker Erling Haaland after he suffered a knock against Real, 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.

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City face Manchester United or Coventry, 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 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.

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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, including 11 in his last six games.

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

Guardiola relief

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.

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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 yards 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.

But the much-maligned striker’s shot was palmed away by Ortega, who clawed away a close-range header from Jackson seconds later.

City finally tested Djordje Petrovic through Phil Foden’s snap-shot, but the Serbian was equal to his powerful strike.

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Chelsea appealed in vain for a penalty when Jack Grealish’s arm blocked Palmer’s free-kick, while Moises Caicedo was fortunate to escape a second booking for a crunching tackle that forced Grealish to limp off.

Grealish’s replacement Jeremy Doku drew an immediate save from Petrovic with a near-post blast.

Doku’s presence lifted City and the Belgian played a part 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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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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FA Cup

Beckham hopes Man United documentary can inspire current squad ahead of FA Cup final

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 '99' World Premiere - Printworks, Manchester, Britain - May 9, 2024 Former Manchester United player David Beckham poses on the red carpet before '99' World Premiere REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

Former Manchester United midfielder David Beckham hopes a documentary about their 1998–99 treble-winning season can offer inspiration to the current side.

Beckham won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup with United 25 years ago, becoming the first English side to do so. However, United are now facing the prospect of having no European football next season.

The three times European champions are eighth in the Premier League standings, having won one of their last seven games. They have conceded 81 goals in all competitions, their worst showing since the 1976-77 season.

They play league leaders Arsenal on Sunday and have reached the FA Cup final, where they face rivals Manchester City on May 25.

“It’s been a difficult time for the team over the last few years now but it was always going to be,” Beckham told BBC Radio 5 at the premiere of Amazon Prime Documentary ’99’ on Thursday.

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“When we were as successful as we were for the amount of years there was always gong to be this time. Now, we feel it’s probably gone on for a little bit too long.

“It will mean something to these homegrown lads without a doubt because the lads actually talk about that moment in time so we hope it inspires them.”

Many former United players criticised manager Erik ten Hag after Monday’s 4-0 Premier League loss at Crystal Palace, saying he is unlikely to be given another year at the helm.

Asked about Ten Hag having to motivate his players, Beckham told TalkSport, opens new tab the Dutch coach did not have to do much. “I think that’s the whole point of being a United player and playing in these big games – you should be motivated,” he said.

“You’re doing the job you love and you’re at the club you love, when you’re playing in any game, whether it’s a regular season game or whether it’s an FA Cup final against your rivals, that should be enough motivation.”

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-Reuters

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FA Cup

FA Cup final to kick off as usual at 3pm, in relief for travelling fans

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The FA Cup 2023-24 final between holders Manchester City and Manchester United will kick off at 3pm local time, the English FA said on Tuesday, in welcome news for travelling fans who often struggle with late kickoffs.

The May 25 final will see the two sides from Manchester – 200 miles north of the capital – face off at London’s Wembley Stadium for the second year in a row.

“This kickoff time was agreed with the clubs, local authority, members of the Safety Advisory Group and broadcasters,” the FA said in a statement.

City, who beat United 2-1 to win the trophy last year, defeated Chelsea 1-0 in the semi-finals while United gave up a 3-0 lead in the last 20 minutes before eventually beating Coventry City on penalties.

-Reuters

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Denied by toenail, Coventry boss Robins proud in defeat

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FA Cup - Semi Final - Coventry City v Manchester United - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - April 21, 2024 Coventry City's Jay Da Silva and manager Mark Robins look dejected after losing the penalty shootout REUTERS/Toby Melville

The width of a toenail cost Coventry City a place in the FA Cup final after a remarkable comeback against Manchester United on Sunday but manager Mark Robins said he was proud of his players after losing a penalty shootout.

Robins, who won the Cup as player with United in 1990, watched his side battle back from 3-0 down after 71 minutes with goals from Ellis Simms and Callum O’Hare and a Haji Wright penalty deep into stoppage time.

Second-tier Coventry were the better side in extra time and thought they had pulled off a remarkable win against the 12-time champions when Victor Torp scored from close range 20 seconds from the end of extra time.

The joy of the 36,000 travelling Coventry fans turned to tears though as Torp’s goal was disallowed by VAR with Wright adjudged to have been centimetres offside before playing the ball across the face of goal.

United then won 4-2 on penalties to deny Coventry a second FA Cup final, having beaten Tottenham Hotspur in 1987, and prevent them from becoming the first team from outside the Premier League to reach the final since Cardiff City in 2008.

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Despite the outcome it felt like a moral victory for Coventry who were magnificent after a poor first hour.

“Bitterly disappointed, but I’m proud as well,” said Robins whose goal in an FA Cup third round for United against Nottingham Forest in 1990 is said to have saved then manager Alex Ferguson’s job and paved the way for a glittering era.

“Someone said to me I don’t think any team have been as close to a final without getting there.

“We deserved to go through, we were 20 seconds away and a toenail offside, it’s ridiculous.”

Robins said Simms’ goal gave his side belief after struggling to make any impact before that.

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“We thought it might be a consolation and then the second loops in and it gives us a lifeline. Your tails are up then. Haji sticks a penalty away and all to play for,” he said.

“They hit the bar, we hit the bar. Another goal with 20 seconds to go. It took an age. The fourth official said there was nothing wrong with it (initially). A toenail offside.”

-Reuters

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