Riyad Mahrez happy to see Man City shake off FA Cup semi-final hoodoo

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Riyad Mahrez reflected with pride after firing Treble-chasing Manchester City into the FA Cup final with a superb hat-trick.

The Algeria international became the first man to hit three in an FA Cup semi-final since 1958 – and the first at Wembley – as City swept aside Championship Sheffield United 3-0 on Saturday.

It capped a brilliant week for City after they also reached the Champions League semi-finals and saw title rivals Arsenal, who they face in a crucial clash on Wednesday, drop more points.

Mahrez was also pleased to end City’s recent tale of semi-final woe in the FA Cup after defeats to Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in the past three years.

He said: “It’s really good to score and help the team to win. We really wanted to make sure we won the game and did a good performance.

“The last three years we came here in the semi-final and lost. We really wanted to make sure we went through this time.

“We think we did a really solid game, a serious game, and we deserved to go through to the final.”

Mahrez had been recalled to the side as manager Pep Guardiola made six changes to the side that finished off their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich in midweek.

Riyad Mahrez scores a penalty against Sheffield United
Mahrez opened the scoring with a penalty (John Walton/PA)

Mahrez duly converted and went on to strike twice more just after the hour, a fine individual effort and a sweet strike from a Jack Grealish cross.

On why he was on penalties ahead of Haaland, Mahrez said: “Everyone asks me this  but, me and Erling – we talk.

“Sometimes it is him, sometimes it is me. Here, I felt it, I took it. Next time it will be him. We are really comfortable with the situation and it is fine.”

City’s victory was their 11th in 12 games and they head into their eagerly-anticipated encounter against the Gunners with considerable confidence and momentum.

Mahrez insists this is what really matters and not personal glory.

He said: “The most important thing is the way we are playing at the moment. We have to keep going because I think we are in a good moment.”

Referee Stuart Attwell blows the whistle at full-time during the FA Cup semi-final
United were well beaten but are close to securing promotion (Nick Potts/PA)

Iliman Ndiaye spurned a glorious chance in the second minute when he shot at Stefan Ortega at close range and, as they saw very little of the ball thereafter, it was a miss they were to rue.

Yet with the Yorkshire side on the brink of securing promotion back to the Premier League, it has still been an outstanding season.

Midfielder Sander Berge said: “We were unlucky to give away that (penalty) at the end of the first half. It never felt like they were dominating us.

“But it is what it is. It was a good learning curve and hopefully we’ll be playing teams like this next year.

“It’s a massive step up, a completely different level from the Championship but that’s where you want to be, fighting against these teams and showcasing yourself.

“We now have to focus on the league and finish the job there.”

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