Liverpool Reach Their First FA Cup Final in a Decade With a Win Over Man City

Liverpool Reach Their First FA Cup Final in a Decade With a Win Over Man City

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17 Apr 2022
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Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool beat Man City 3-2 on Saturday to advance to the FA Cup final for the first time since 2012.

When Kevin de Bruyne was hurt in Manchester City’s match against Atletico Madrid last week, it was game over. City’s players, drained both mentally and physically, fought their way back up the tunnel at the end of the Battle of the Wanda Metropolitano, through the headbutts and punches, overpowered by relief and triumph of their two-leg victory.

When three of City’s first-choice back-four were absent from the starting eleven, the game was finished. It was over when Fernandinho, a midfielder who is leaving at the end of the season, was selected to hold the line and when Zack Steffen replaced Ederson in goal.

City’s team isn’t as deep as Liverpool’s, and no matter how hard they try to hide it, winning the Champions League for the first time has become their Holy Grail. Everything else is merely incidental. Jurgen Klopp was allowed to rest some of his first-choice players for last week’s match against Benfica. The game was over when Liverpool’s team was announced, and it was a first-team eleven. It was one of those times when everyone could see what was about to happen. When Peter Reid, the famous Evertonian, was interviewed before the game, he knew it. He predicted a win ‘for the Reds,’ which he expressed regret for.

Even though City were not at their best, Liverpool’s effort in the first 45 minutes was outstanding. They competed with a ferocity that outstripped their opponents. Sadio Mane, the evening’s man of the match, was particularly tenacious. They swarmed all over the city, forcing them to make a series of possession errors. Naby Keita and Fabinho demolished Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho, and Thiago Alcantara strutted about Wembley like a king.

City got a half-chance early on when Gabriel Jesus broke down the right side and advanced on Andrew Robertson. He passed the ball inside to Jack Grealish, who could have hit it first time if he had been more confident. Grealish, on the other hand, took a touch and enabled a defender to close in on him and stop his shot.

Liverpool had taken the lead just a few minutes later. Ibrahima Konate muscled Gabriel Jesus out of the way and soared gloriously above Nathan Ake to power a header beyond Steffen’s reach after Robertson sent over a corner from the left. The air turned red at the other end as Liverpool fans threw a smoke bomb onto the pitch in celebration.

Within 18 minutes, Liverpool had extended their lead. This time, the purpose was to create an anomaly. It’s possible that it’s an outright abomination. It appeared to be a sign for the disparity in approach and energy between the two squads. During the league match between these two sides last weekend, Ederson was acclaimed as the King of Cool for his calm demeanor under pressure, but poor Steffen was cruelly exposed as he tried to emulate the same calm demeanor.

When John Stones rolled a backpass to the American goalkeeper, there was no danger, but Steffen took one touch with his left foot and then considered taking another with his right foot as Mane sprinted towards him, but decided against it. After all, he did take a touch with his right foot, and Mane was now on him. It was too late for Steffen to clear it. Mane slid in first, snatched the ball, and pushed it across the goal line.

It seemed surprising how one-sided the match was. It was almost odd to see City outclassed in this way. Liverpool’s self-assurance skyrocketed. Before playing it square, Virgil van Dijk flicked the ball up and let it spin back to him. Luis Diaz demonstrated his trickery and flicks, while Thiago Alcantara controlled the midfield. City, on the other hand, appeared to morph into Atletico Madrid. They could only generate a string of fouls.

On the stroke of half-time, Liverpool emphasized their dominance. Klopp’s team recycled the ball after Diaz’s shot was blocked, and Thiago and Trent Alexander-Arnold exchanged rapid passes on the outskirts of the City area. Thiago raised his head and floated an exquisite pass to Mane, who volleyed it with the outside of his foot away from Steffen’s left hand and beyond him at the near post. This was not the reserve goalkeeper’s best performance.

The game appeared to be heading for a rout until City snatched a lifeline little over 60 seconds after the break. Near the half-way mark, Robertson gave the ball away, and Fernandinho carried it down the right flank before passing it inside to Jesus. He took a step inside his marker and squared the ball to Grealish, who slashed it past Alisson with the outside of his left foot for the first time.

The city was besieged once more. Jesus dashed through, only to have Alisson divert his shot. The game became more frenzied as the tempo increased. Fernandinho was fortunate not to receive a straight red for a lunging, mistimed foul on Mane, and was only rescued from dismissal because his studs were not lifted. Liverpool fans booed him vociferously as he walked away.

City, on the other hand, was eager to show they were still in the game, and with 20 minutes remaining, they should have pulled even closer to Liverpool. Grealish toe-poked a pass through to Jesus, putting him in a one-on-one situation with Alisson. The first time Jesus took it, he hit it too near to the goalkeeper, and it cannoned off his left boot and bounced wide of the net. It was a huge win. When you choose your best keeper, you get something like this.

Liverpool had a chance to put the game out of reach a minute later when Oleksandr Zinchenko stooped to head the ball back to Steffen, but Mo Salah snuck in. Salah masterfully dunked the ball over Steffen, but it looped into the side-netting.

As the game entered extra time, City scored a second goal. Riyad Mahrez, a Liverpool substitute, raced past Robertson on the left flank and tried to sneak his effort between Alisson’s legs. Bernardo Silva put the ball into the empty net after it wriggle free. This set up a wild climax in which Fernandinho hit the crossbar and Steffen made a last-ditch save from Roberto Firmino, but Liverpool held on.

  • Jürgen Klopp
  • liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Pep Guardiola
  • Livescore (livescore)
  • Match highlights

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