Ilkay Gundogan scored the quickest goal in the FA Cup final history after just 12 seconds, only for United to equalise before half-time through Bruno Fernandes‘ penalty, awarded after a VAR check when Jack Grealish handled in the box.
Gundogan scored again six minutes after half-time with a second volley from outside the box to put City back into the lead, and United couldn’t find another equaliser after struggling to create many meaningful chances. Pep Guardiola’s team next head to Istanbul to face Internazionale in the Champions League final looking to add the third and final leg of what would be a historic treble.
1. City remain on course for the treble after cup triumph
City have got the FA Cup to add to their Premier League title and a major obstacle of their way to the treble has been cleared. They’ve still got a Champions League final against Inter to come, but ask City fan which game they were most nervous about and, without doubt, it was this one.
Aside from an uncomfortable spell immediately after United’s equaliser, City were the better team and if they had taken more of their chances in the first 30 minutes, they would have been out of sight by half-time.
Guardiola’s team are the best in the world at the moment and they proved it again. Inter won’t just roll over in Istanbul next weekend but it would be a major surprise if City don’t win their first Champions League title and complete the treble. They have dominated English football since Guardiola’s arrival in 2016 and winning everything in a single season would be the icing on the cake. Only Sir Alex Ferguson’s United have done it before nearly 25 years ago, but City’s Class of 2023 are just 90 minutes away from taking their place in the history books. It’s so close.
2. Gundogan turns into “prime Zidane” again
City players have been joking that, at the business end of the season, Gundogan turns into “prime Zidane,” and at Wembley he did it again.
The Germany midfielder scored after just 12 seconds with a sweetly struck volley and then repeated the trick just after half-time. His second wasn’t as clean, but it still crept past David De Gea and inside the post. On the last day of last season, Gundogan scored twice as City came back from 2-0 down against Aston Villa to win 3-2 and pip Liverpool to the title. Fast-forward 12 months and he scored doubles against Leeds United and Everton in May as Guardiola’s team lifted the title again. Two goals against United makes it six goals in his last six games during City’s charge towards the treble, and you wouldn’t bet against him getting a goal against Inter. He’ll be 33 years old in October, but you can understand why Guardiola is so desperate for him to stay. Barcelona and Arsenal are keen to sign him as a free agent this summer, but he’s still making a crucial contribution for City in the biggest games.
3. United are still a long way behind City
Defeat in the FA Cup final shouldn’t detract from the progress United have made under Erik Ten Hag this season, but it was more evidence that they are still a long way behind City. After conceding before they’d even had a kick, United looked lost for the first 30 minutes and were lucky that it stayed at 1-0 for so long. A Rodri header which rippled the outside of the net had the City supporters jumping out of their seats while Erling Haaland had another good chance which he scuffed back to De Gea.
United were barely in the game before the VAR, David Coote, decided Grealish had handled in the box and created very little afterwards. City and United were separated by 14 points in the Premier League this season and it’s a lot of ground to make up in one summer — particularly if Untied don’t get a proven goal-scoring No. 9 like Harry Kane in the transfer window.
Ten Hag wasn’t helped by injuries to Lisandro Martinez, Antony and Anthony Martial — three players who probably would have started against City — but there is still a big gulf between the two squads and it’s hard to see United breaking City’s dominance of English football anytime soon.
Best and worst performers
Ilkay Gundogan, MF, Man City: Now the record holder for the fastest goal in FA Cup final history. Always seems to turn it on in the run-in.
John Stones, DF, Man City: Playing in his hybrid role in defence and midfield, he was always on hand to offer another option and caused problems for United with occasional runs forward.
Stefan Ortega, GK, Man City: Faced a lot of pressure as a No.2 goalkeeper picked for such a big game but he dealt with it well.
Victor Lindelof, DF, Man United: Let the ball bounce after Erling Haaland’s flick-on and Gundogan took advantage with a spectacular strike.
David de Gea, GK, Man United: Again struggled with his kicking and should have done better with Gundogan’s second goal.
Highlights and notable moments
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) June 3, 2023
After the match: What the managers and players said
Will appear here…
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Man City ties Real Madrid for the most goals from outside the penalty area this season (22) in all competitions among teams from Europe’s top five leagues.
– Gundogan has three braces in his last six games for City after having just one brace in his previous 107 games in all competitions.
Manchester City: It’s Inter Milan for the Premier League champions as they look to complete the treble. The Champions League final takes place on Saturday, June 10.
Manchester United: The season is over for the Red Devils.