LONDON – Three goals for Riyad Mahrez have secured Manchester City’s bid for three trophies.
The Algerian forward’s hat-trick took City to the FA Cup final in a 3-0 win against Sheffield United on Saturday.
After making it to the semi-finals of the Champions League this week, Pep Guardiola’s side took another step towards the treble with a regular season win at Wembley Stadium. The FA Cup final in June will be against Manchester United or Brighton.
City can also capture the English Premier League title race against leaders Arsenal on Wednesday.
In City’s current mood, it’s hard to stop anyone from wanting the defending league champions to emulate Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup glory.
Certainly not Second-Division side Sheffield, whose chance of a historic FA Cup shock was effectively ended in the 43rd minute when Mahrez struck from the penalty spot after Daniel Jebison fouled Bernardo Silva in the box.
Mahrez doubled City’s lead in the 61st when he ran straight through the Sheffield defense and fired past Wes Fodringham.
The third came five minutes later when Jack Grealish’s pass was returning home.
City were 16 games unbeaten in all competitions and were not at their disastrous best on Saturday when leading scorer Erling Haaland failed to add to his 48 goals this season in a lackluster performance.
Sheffield, who are on the brink of promotion to the Premier League, might have drawn the contest further if Ilman Ndiaye had converted a close-range effort in the second minute which was saved by Stefan Ortega.
leicester wins in the end
A first win in 11 games lifted Leicester out of the relegation zone. Despite going behind on a Matheus Cunha goal, goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and Timothy Castagna helped the Foxes beat Wolverhampton 2–1 at the King Power Stadium to move out of the bottom three on goal difference.
It was a good start for new manager Dean Smith in charge of his first home game since replacing the sacked Brendan Rodgers.
This meant that Everton dropped to 18th, despite a 0–0 draw at in-form Crystal Palace, highlighting the Merseyside club’s struggles in front of goal.
Toffee has scored only 24 times, the fewest in the league.
Leeds lose again
While Leeds avoided a third straight rout, a 2–1 loss to Fulham was another blow to the Yorkshire club’s battle to avoid relegation.
After conceding 11 goals in the last two games – losing 5-1 to Palace and 6-1 to Liverpool – it was certainly an improvement for Javi Gracia’s team, but victories are becoming increasingly difficult.
Harry Wilson and Andreas Pereira got Fulham two wickets before João Palhinha’s own goal.
Tuesday’s home game against Leicester could be absolutely crucial to both teams’ survival hopes.
liverpool finding form
Jurgen Klopp recorded his 100th league win at Anfield after Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.
But perhaps more importantly, Liverpool’s second win in succession points to a long-awaited revival in an inconsistent campaign.
Relegation-threatened Forest came back twice before Mohamed Salah’s winner in the 70th.
Diogo Jota put Liverpool in front twice in the second half and Forest responded through Neko Williams and Morgan Gibbs-White.
“We gave away two goals very easily and in a game like this you have to control the possession. You don’t have to force it and sometimes we force it,” Klopp said.
The defeat increased the pressure on Forest manager Steve Cooper on an 11-game winless run.
“Nobody’s going to come out here happy because we lost a football match and it adds to the ruckus,” he said. And that mentality in one of the toughest sports in Europe, never mind the Premier League.
Brentford Holds Villa
Aston Villa’s five-game winning streak was halted by a 1–1 draw at Brentford.
The Midlands club raised hopes of an unlikely push for the top four after winning seven of their last eight games ahead of Saturday’s game. But a goal from Ivan Toni put Brentford on the brink of victory, before Douglas Luiz secured a draw for Villa in the 87th.
Villa manager Unai Emery said, “We can play better and we will have to demand better performances for the next games.”
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