LONDON (AP) — John Stones’ tame back pass headed for Zack Steffen. Manchester City’s backup goalkeeper needed just a simple clearance, with Liverpool already in the lead.
A touch controlled the pass. The second touch was… do what? The loitering American just took too long.
Before the ball could be cleared, Sadio Mane ran into the penalty area and slid in to push the ball over the line.
Liverpool took a two-goal lead – relying on Ibrahima Konate’s header – and Mane scored again before half-time to clinch an eventual 3-2 victory over City on Saturday and reach a first FA final Cup in a decade.
The treble is still on the way for Liverpool with either Chelsea or Crystal Palace awaiting the FA Cup final next month.
There are only two paths to trophies for City, and Liverpool could thwart both.
Their fight for the English Premier League trophy is much tighter than that FA Cup semi-final would suggest, where Liverpool’s superiority was clear in the first half before goals from Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva failed. give hope for a return of City.
Their 2-2 league draw last Sunday prevented Liverpool from taking top spot and left City a point clear.
There could still be a fourth installment in this season’s rivalry in Paris next month if they win the semi-finals to reach the Champions League final. This would see Liverpool contest three finals in 2022 having already won the League Cup at Wembley.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HUNT
City and Liverpool seem sure to qualify for the Champions League again. The rest of the Premier League’s top four are more up for grabs, with Manchester United’s pursuit aided by defeats to Tottenham and Arsenal.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick secured a 3-2 win over Norwich after the bottom-seeded side fought back from two goals. United moved above Arsenal and into fifth place.
Tottenham were just three points clear in fourth after losing to Brighton 1-0. Spurs were at least helped by defeating Arsenal by the same scoreline at Southampton to prevent their neighbors from progressing on points.
RELEGATION FROM PREMIER LEAGUE
Watford edged closer to relegation after losing 2-1 to Brentford, who moved to 11th place in their debut Premier League campaign. Pontus Jansson scored the winner in the fifth minute of added time.
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