Sadio Mane was once again the scourge of Manchester City as Liverpool clinched a place in the FA Cup final for the first time since 2012 with a 3-2 victory that keeps their quest for an extraordinary quadruple alive.
Just six days earlier, the Senegalese attacker scored a crucial equalize to earn a 2-2 Premier League draw in a title clash at the Etihad Stadium, and he grabbed center stage at Wembley after Ibrahima Konate opened the scoring with a header for the third consecutive game.
Just eight minutes later, Mane charged down a hesitant Zack Steffen to tackle the City stopper and slot the ball home for Liverpool’s second of the afternoon.
It was a massive error from the Citizens’ backup goalkeeper, and it just added to the idea that Pep Guardiola’s selection gambit had backfired spectacularly.
Indeed, after their Champions League exploits at Atletico Madrid in midweek, City manager Pep Guardiola said he had no choice but to choose a less-than-full-strength squad, which Jurgen Klopp’s Reds exploited brutally.
Mane struck again on the stroke of halftime, finishing a lovely play on the edge of the penalty box with blistering near post volley to cap a fairytale first 45 for the Merseysiders.
The city needed a quick response and got it as Jack Grealish scored the first-time goal from Gabriel Jesus’ ball just a minute after the game restarted.
In a more level second half, Alisson made two outstanding saves to deny Jesus when the Brazilian was set free, while Mo Salah went close for the Reds.
Bernardo Silva pulled one back in stoppage time to set up a tense finish, but Klopp’s side held on to win.
With the win, Liverpool will face either Chelsea or Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final, keeping their hopes of winning four trophies alive.
The city will not win the triple, but they are still in contention for the Premier League and the Champions League.
The spotlight is redirected to the Premier League title chase. On Tuesday, Liverpool will face Manchester United, while Manchester City will want to rebound from their loss to Brighton at home on Wednesday.