LONDON (AP) – Manchester City’s treble-legged second leg will be certain.
The FA Cup, after a 2-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United on Saturday, adds to the latest English Premier League title.
Now only the first UEFA Champions League title separates City from the immortality of English football.
“We are in a position where we probably won’t be back,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
Ilkay Gundogan scored twice – the first in 13 seconds, the fastest in 142 years of FA Cup finals – to lead City to their 16th title since 2011 in what appears to be the crowning season for the Abu Dhabi dynasty.
While the German midfielder’s first goal, a stunning volley from the edge of the penalty area, may have been his best goal in seven years with City, his 51st-minute strike at Wembley could prove to be one of his best.
This time it was a left-footed shot after Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick was saved from the right wing. The ball swung between two United defenders and passed goalkeeper David De Gea, who was perhaps a bit blind but should have done better.
United were looking to protect their proud place as the only team to win the league, FA Cup and European Cup treble in 1999 and equalized before half-time through Bruno Fernandes’ penalty in the 33rd minute.
Late pressure saw United hit the crossbar through Raphael Varane. The team needs a favor from Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul next Saturday to thwart City’s triple attempt.
“What a privilege,” Guardiola said. “We are one game away.”
In the Class of 2023, City became the 13th team in English football history to win the League and FA Cup double. It happened twice under Guardiola, who won 13 trophies in his seven years with the club and 34 in his managerial career.
The latest round of silverware came in the same season that the Premier League accused the club of more than 100 breaches of financial rules. City denied the accusations and the players certainly didn’t think about it again after the final whistle as they ran from the halfway line and jumped for joy in front of their home fans waving blue and white flags.
At the center of the celebrations was Gundogan, who – as he is now – will leave City after the Champions League final with his contract expiring. He will leave as a top club and FA Cup record holder.
The first goal was scored by the British BBC in the 12.91 minute, and it came after Gundogan, the city captain, implemented the first goal himself. He returned the ball to goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who pushed it forward to be dispatched by Erling Haaland. United defender Victor Lindelof was unable to clear Gundogan who unleashed a right-footed shot from 20 yards.
“We aim at him, aim at Erling and try to get the second ball quickly,” Gundogan said.
The goal shook United, who even topped off the controversial decision to award Jack Grealish a penalty for handball as he raised his arms while jumping to block a header in the penalty area from United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Play continued and some stabbings took place on the field by United players, but the video assistant referee reviewed the incident and awarded a penalty kick after the referee looked at the screen of the floor.
Fernandez headed for the ball and sent Ortega the wrong way.
Gundogan finally had the last laugh, just as he did in City’s final game last season when he scored twice late on to come from 2-0 down at Aston Villa and clinch the Premier League. The league won 3-2.
United were looking to secure double the national silverware in Erik ten Hag’s first year, after winning the League Cup in February, but above all ensuring that the legacy of 1999 is preserved.
But the 142nd FA Cup final – the first between the two Manchester clubs – was largely one-sided, and Ten Hag admitted his side lost to “the best team in the world”.
The United players stayed on the pitch and watched as City descended the stairs to collect winners’ medals from Prince William.
“You have to feel it in your stomach,” Ten Hag said. “It must be fuel.”
All roads lead to Istanbul as Guardiola and City are chasing another piece of history.
“We have to win the Champions League, to know how the team deserves recognition,” he said.
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