Riyad Mahrez scored a hattrick.

Riyad Mahrez scored a hattrick.

John Walton/PA Images/Getty Images


Manchester City’s treble hopes remain alive after defeating Sheffield United 3-0 in the FA Cup semifinal, thanks to a hattrick from Riyad Mahrez.

It was always the likely result although the knockout stages of any competition can produce surprises and Pep Guardiola had rested five key players – Kevin De Bruyne, Rúben Dias, Rodri, John Stones and Ederson – ahead of Wednesday’s likely title-deciding Premier League clash against Arsenal.

Still, City is one of the best teams in Europe while Sheffield United is fighting for promotion in England’s second tier – the Championship – but it was not an entirely one-sided game.

“Excellent performance,” Guardiola told ITV afterwards, “we cannot forget three days ago we were in Munich.

“The quality of Riyad we have seen for many years in this country, also with Leicester. (He is a) huge mentality competitor. Huge ambition to score goals. Scoring at the end of the first half was so important.”

Sheffield kept the scores pegged at 0-0 for much of the first half and had its own chance to take the lead early on when Iliman Ndiaye’s attempt after a corner was saved by Stefan Ortega.

But City won a penalty in the 43rd minute, which Mahrez converted and from there, the outcome seemed clear.

Mahrez's first goal opened the scoring.

Mahrez’s first goal opened the scoring.

Nick Potts/PA Images/Getty Images

Just after halftime, Mahrez scored his second goal of the game – a glorious strike after he won possession on the halfway line, wove his way past the Sheffield defense and fired the ball into the net.

And then five minutes later, he had a hattrick – the first in an FA Cup semifinal since 1958 – latching onto Jack Grealish’s cross and making no mistake with the finish.

“It feels very good (to score a hat-trick),” Mahrez told ITV afterwards. “The most important thing is that two or three seasons in a row we’ve come here in the semi-finals and lost. Today, we wanted to make sure we got to the final. I think I had a good game.

“I don’t know really which goal was the best. It’s a good team achievement and we took the game seriously.”

City will face either Manchester United or Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup final on June 3.

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