Manchester City reach FA Cup final after Bernardo Silva’s late strike sinks Chelsea

The idea for Manchester City had been to channel the anguish from the Champions League quarter-final exit against Real Madrid into something more positive and it surely applied most strongly to one of their number.

Bernardo Silva was a snapshot of negative emotions after his terrible penalty in the shootout with Madrid on Wednesday, the chip that went so horribly wrong turning the tide against his team. This is what redemption looks like.

It was a curious performance from City as they fought to keep alive their hopes of a silver-lined finish to yet another season. The double-treble might have gone but the double- Double had not. Chelsea were threatening, they created gilt-edged chances – mainly for Nicolas Jackson – and they were the better team in the second

What was most striking was City’s lack of control. They were loose, jaded – a legacy of the 120-plus minutes against Madrid and the penalties, Pep Guardiola making his feelings perfectly clear afterwards about what he called the unacceptably quick turnaround for this showpiece FA Cup semi-final.

Guardiola said he did not know how City survived; in terms of overcoming adversity, it was – in his opinion – one of his champion team’s finest days. But City survived because, unlike Chelsea, they know how to make their punches count. There were 84 minutes on the clock when they landed the decisive one.

Kevin De Bruyne had been a symbol of their performance; trying everything and not seeing it all come off, by any means. He was not the only City player to lose easy balls. He was, however, a repeat offender.

De Bruyne kept going and it was his cutback from a pass up the inside left from the substitute Jérémy Doku that teed up Silva. The ball flicked off the leg of the Chelsea goalkeeper, Djordje Petrovic, and there was Silva, opening up his body to guide home with the help of a deflection off Marc Cucurella

Bernardo Silva of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

 Bernardo Silva celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Chelsea. 

Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 to reach a second successive FA Cup final Pep Guardiola was scathing about the scheduling of the semi‑final, 72 hours after the “punch in the face” of losing Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout after extra time.

Bernardo Silva’s 79th-minute strike kept the holders on course for a double Double, yet Guardiola questioned why City’s semi-final could not be staged on Sunday and Manchester United’s with Coventry on Saturday instead.

“I’m incredibly happy to play the semi-final of the FA Cup. I love to be in the quarter-final of the Champions League but I don’t understand,” Guardiola said. “It’s for the health of the players [my concern]. I don’t understand how we survived today. What they have done today is one of the greatest things I have seen from a group of players.

“People cannot imagine what a punch in the face to be out of the Champions League in the way we are out. Why not give us one more day to arrive on Sunday because Coventry and United didn’t play in midweek. For broadcasters? OK.”

When we play the Champions League [then] – hopefully we will qualify – it is the same week as the Carabao Cup. How are we going to play? Will we play EDS in the Carabao Cup? After next season we go to the Club World Cup [too].

“We are incredibly happy, a lot of money, incredibly prestigious. But how many days do I give off to the players? Two weeks off and start the season again. It’s unsustainable.”

Guardiola cited that exhaustion caused his players to under-perform versus Chelsea, naming his captain, Kyle Walker, as one. “I said to them ‘don’t fight against your feelings – if you’re sad and disappointed it’s fine [after Real reverse],’” Guardiola said. “But once you’re here, do your best. And they did it. [Manuel] Akanji and Rodri and Kevin [De Bruyne]. Kyle was injured for four weeks, played 120 minutes [Wednesday] and said he wanted to play again. Play good? No, but he was there. And it’s enough.”

Mauricio Pochetinno bemoaned Chelsea’s profligacy. “We had to be clinical and we didn’t do that today,” he said.

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