Emirates FA Cup, Football

Man City vs Chelsea: Bernardo Silva sends City to FA Cup final with late winner

With a 1-0 FA Cup semi-final victory over Chelsea, Pep Guardiola’s team’s chances of keeping the domestic double alive were preserved by a late strike from Bernardo Silva.

Guardiola’s team, who were without the injured Erling Haaland, was reeling from their midweek Champions League defeat on penalties at the hands of Real Madrid, which destroyed their dreams of winning back-to-back trebles. For much of the match, they were out of rhythm.

At Wembley, Chelsea was the team that was playing with the upper hand, but in the end, they were forced to pay for a lot of wasted opportunities. The primary offender was Nicolas Jackson, who early in the second half saw custodian Stefan Ortega deny him twice in quick succession.

Jack Grealish was not given a penalty by Mauricio Pochettino’s team when Cole Palmer’s free kick struck his hand. To the dismay of Pochettino and his players, referee Michael Oliver rejected the appeals before VAR upheld the on-field ruling.

As extra time approached, the breakthrough materialised. Silva, who atoned for missing a penalty in the shootout against Real Madrid during the week, finished Kevin De Bruyne’s cross at the back post to put City ahead and maintain their FA Cup defence.

On Saturday, May 25, they will return to Wembley for their second consecutive FA Cup final, where they will take on either Manchester United or Coventry, who are playing in Sunday’s other semi-final at Wembley.

How Manchester City reached the FA Cup final again…


After Man City’s Champions League midweek departure, was there going to be a Man City hangover? Chelsea made a very strong start at Wembley under Pochettino, so the subject was definitely raised.

Before Jackson unleashed a shot directly at goalie Ortega, Conor Gallagher, who was starting in an unusual left flank spot, was snapping at the heels of the City defenders and winning the ball back right on the edge of the penalty area.

Palmer, who scored four goals against Everton on Monday, demonstrated his immense confidence by attempting a daring 45-yard lobbed attempt to fool Ortega. But unlike against Everton, he failed to land the strike exactly.

Man City was having trouble getting into a groove. But because of the quality they have, they can activate it instantly. With a deft pass, De Bruyne accomplished exactly that, allowing Phil Foden to go past the Chelsea defence. The England international wrapped around Dorde Petrovic, but his touch was too wide, and Marc Cucurella returned to head the ball clear because the angle was too tight.

Chelsea had a good half-ending as City was unable to capitalise on the opportunity. Jackson caught City off guard, but he didn’t appear to be at ease going through on goal. Although he was able to go around Ortega, he was forced wide, chose not to take a shot, and instead passed the ball directly to Nathan Ake.

Just before halftime, Ortega performed a momentous play as the two teams headed into halftime tied on points thanks to a brilliant save made low to his left by the in-form Palmer.

Would Chelsea look back and regret not taking advantage of their early lead?

Chelsea was still putting a lot of pressure on Man City at the beginning of the second half, even after Ruben Dias was brought on to replace John Stones at halftime. Pochettino’s team continued to have opportunities, but they were consistently squandered.

This time, Jackson was the one who did it. Ortega denied him twice in quick succession, the second time being a header that he really ought to have scored from close range.

As the second half progressed, the game grew increasingly open. Foden was denied by a deft save from Petrovic, and Chelsea was denied a penalty by VAR when Palmer’s free kick looked to have struck Grealish on the hand.

Far into the second half, Man City began to take the game seriously. Jack Grealis was substituted by Jeremy Doku, who got right to work, but Petrovic’s foot blocked his low shot. Shortly after, as City attempted to find a winner, De Bruyne missed the mark.

Six minutes left was the critical moment. Petrovic sent De Bruyne’s cross into Silva’s path, and the attacking midfielder beat Chelsea’s hearts by firing in at the far post.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola:

“It’s unacceptable to let us play today. It’s impossible, for the health of the players. It’s not normal. It’s unacceptable, 120 minutes, the emotions of Madrid, the way we lose, honestly. I know this country is special [with the FA Cup] but it’s for the health of the players. I don’t understand how we survived today.”

Asked whether he has raised it with authorities: “Do you think demanding will change something? The only power I have I say here. Why don’t we play tomorrow [Sunday]? Chelsea, Manchester United, Coventry didn’t play midweek.

“I thought a lot. I remember two seasons ago we had Dortmund on Wednesday – and Liverpool on Saturday [in the FA Cup semi]. They were 3-0 up at half-time. They destroyed us.

“Mentally so tough to recover. Rodri, the way he played today, Kyle, who was injured for a few weeks, I don’t understand how they survived. We want to play football. We love to play football but it’s too much. We defend our trophy. We’ll be here.

“They killed us on the transition. The game was so tight. [I thought] extra-time, no please.”

On what he told his players: “Don’t fight against your feelings. If you’re sad you’re sad. If you’re disappointed, you’re disappointed. I’m sad. I’m so down. We played an exceptional game. I said if you’re sad play with your sadness.”

Brighton will host Manchester City on Thursday, April 25.

Tuesday, April 23, sees Chelsea visit Arsenal.

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