Riyad Mahrez treble cuts down Blades and takes Manchester City to FA Cup final

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Riyad Mahrez scored the first FA Cup semi-final hat-trick since 1958 as Manchester City eased into the final with a 3-0 defeat of Sheffield United.

The Algeria international put Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasing side ahead with a penalty late in the first half before striking twice more after the hour.

Championship high-flyers United failed to trouble the imperious City, who made light of their draining schedule in the week they also reached the Champions League semi-finals with a commanding performance.

It was their 11th win in 12 games and they now go into Wednesday’s crucial top-of-table Premier League clash with leaders Arsenal with considerable confidence and momentum.

The loss made for an anti-climatic end to the Blades’ superb run in the competition but their main goal of promotion back to the top-flight should soon follow.

Guardiola made six changes but retained the prolific Erling Haaland, who has scored 48 goals this season, in attack.

Manchester City v Sheffield United – Emirates FA Cup – Semi Final – Wembley Stadium
Riyad Mahrez made the difference (Nick Potts/PA)

United were without their two City loanees in Tommy Doyle and James McAtee and the pair were missed as they struggled to gain a foothold in the game.

Yet the outcome could have been different had the Blades taken their one meaningful chance of the game in the second minute.

Iliman Ndiaye should have scored when the ball fell to him following a corner but he shot straight at Stefan Ortega.

Manchester City v Sheffield United – Emirates FA Cup – Semi Final – Wembley Stadium
Iliman Ndiaye should have given Sheffield United an early lead (Nick Potts/PA)

To their credit they defended stoutly and initially limited City to few clear-cut chances but it seemed only a matter of time before Guardiola’s men would break through.

Haaland gave United a warning when he rifled in a shot from 35 yards but the whistle had already been blown for a foul.

Mahrez curled a shot wide and Julian Alvarez forced a good save from Wes Foderingham before John Fleck diverted a Bernardo Silva cross dangerously close to his own goal.

United threatened again when Jack Robinson took aim from distance but Ortega was not troubled.

Manchester City v Sheffield United – Emirates FA Cup – Semi Final – Wembley Stadium
Bernardo Silva, right, with team-mate Erling Haaland after the former won the penalty (John Walton/PA)

Mahrez, assuming penalty-taking duties after Haaland fired over against Bayern Munich in midweek, confidently sent Foderingham the wrong way.

The second half continued in much the same fashion, with United struggling to gain any meaningful possession.

Manchester City v Sheffield United – Emirates FA Cup – Semi Final – Wembley Stadium
Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez celebrates with Jack Grealish after completing his treble (Nick Potts/PA)

He completed his treble five minutes later. Again the United defence were helpless, this time allowing Jack Grealish to clip in a ball from the left. Mahrez met it with a sweet strike from in front of goal and, despite getting a hand to it, Foderingham was unable to keep it out.

Guardiola then began to turn his attention to Arsenal and made a number of changes. City confidently played out time and will now return to the national stadium in June to face rivals Manchester United or Brighton.

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