Sadio Mane was the scourge of Manchester City once again as Liverpool booked a spot in the FA Cup final for the first time since 2012 with an impressive 3-2 win that maintains their bid for an unprecedented quadruple.
The Senegalese forward netted a priceless equaliser to earn a 2-2 Premier League draw in a title showdown at the Etihad Stadium just six days ago, and he took centre stage at Wembley after Ibrahima Konate had netted in his third consecutive game to open the scoring with a header on nine minutes.
Mane then charged down a hesitant Zack Steffen to tackle the stand-in City stopper and slide the ball home for Liverpool’s second of the afternoon just eight minutes later. It was a huge mistake from the Citizens’ second-choice keeper and rubber-stamped the feeling that Pep Guardiola’s selection gamble had dramatically backfired.
Indeed, the City boss had suggested he had no choice in picking a less than full-strength side following their Champions League exertions at Atletico Madrid in midweek, and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds ruthlessly took advantage.
Mane struck again on the stroke of half time with a sizzling near post volley to round off a neat move on the edge of the penalty area and cap a fairytale first 45 for the Merseysiders.
City desperately needed an early response and got it within a minute of the restart when Jack Grealish fired in a first-time strike from Gabriel Jesus’ pass.
Alisson produced two excellent saves to deny Jesus when the Brazilian was set free while Mo Salah went close for the Reds as both sides had chances in a more even second half.
Bernardo Silva did pull another goal back in stoppage time to set up a nervy finale but Klopp’s men held out to edge over the line.
The victory means Liverpool will meet Chelsea or Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final and remain in the hunt for four trophies. City cannot win the treble but the Premier League and Champions League are still in their sights.
Next up, the focus switches back to the Premier League title race. Liverpool host Manchester United on Tuesday while Manchester City will aim to bounce from this loss at home to Brighton on Wednesday.