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 UEFA 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.
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.
Man City player ratings (3-4-3)
GK: Stefan Ortega – 6/10 – Did well to deny Ndiaye early on but was otherwise a spectator.
CB: Kyle Walker – 6/10 – A poor first half going forwards but the Sheffield native benefited from the extra space in the second half.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Powerful and alert to Sheffield United’s attempted breaks. One of his better games in the past few weeks.
CB: Aymeric Laporte – 6/10 – A little shaky in the first half but calmed himself down after the break.
DM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – Pulled the strings from the base of City’s midfield. Constantly passed the ball around looking to stretch United’s defence.
RM: Bernardo Silva – 7/10 – Could see his frustration building as City struggled to break United down, but he went on to win the penalty to open the scoring.
LM: Sergio Gomez – 6/10 – A noticeable weak link in City’s midfield in the first half, but the extra space after the penalty helped him grow into the game.
AM: Julian Alvarez – 6/10 – A real threat with his shooting and the tempo of his pressing caused countless issues.
RW: Riyad Mahrez – 9/10 – The top performer in an ugly first half, Mahrez blew United away after the break by completing his famous hat-trick.
ST: Erling Haaland – 5/10 – Barely touched the ball as United worked to mark him out of the game.
LW: Jack Grealish – 7/10 – Caused problems regularly and his cut-back for Mahrez was perfect.
Cole Palmer (68′ for Grealish) – 6/10
Phil Foden (68′ for Haaland) – 6/10
Kalvin Phillips (75′ for Gundogan) – 6/10
Rico Lewis (82′ for Silva) – N/A
Pep Guardiola – 6/10 – Not City’s cleanest performance but the biggest positive from Guardiola was keeping a number of his big names fresh for the Arsenal game.
Sheffield United player ratings (3-5-2)
GK: Wes Foderingham – 5/10 – Made a handful of decent saves to ensure City couldn’t run away with proceedings.
CB: Anel Ahmedhodzic – 5/10 – Stubborn defending in the first half but City’s extra swagger proved far too much for him.
CB: John Egan – 6/10 – Enjoyed his battle with Haaland. Didn’t give the City striker any room to breathe.
CB: Jack Robinson – 5/10 – Part of an organised back-line in the first half but lost his grip on Mahrez after the break.
RM: George Baldock – 5/10 – Defended resolutely up against Grealish.
CM: Sander Berge – 6/10 – His physicality in midfield proved a problem for City. Happy to add to the number of bodies behind the ball.
CM: Oliver Norwood – 7/10 – An absolute pest. Did whatever he needed to do to disrupt City’s flow and was clearly having the time of his life doing so.
CM: John Fleck – 5/10 – Didn’t offer a whole lot aside from being another body to get in City’s way.
LM: Max Lowe – 5/10 – Had a tricky time dealing with Mahrez.
ST: Daniel Jebbison – 5/10 – A solid performance from the youngster which was tainted by the moment of madness to concede the penalty.
ST: Iliman Ndiaye – 5/10 – Missed the early chance and was predictably isolated afterwards.
Oli McBurnie (58′ for Jebbison) – 5/10
Billy Sharp (68′ for Fleck) – 5/10
Chris Basham (75′ for Ahmedhodzic) – 5/10
Ismaila Coulibaly (75′ for Berge) – 5/10
Jayden Bogle (75′ for Baldock) – 5/10
Paul Heckingbottom – 6/10 – Got everything perfect in the first half but the penalty ruined his game plan. Was no match for City in the second half but deserves credit for trying to go for a comeback win.
Player of the match – Riyad Mahrez (Man City)
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