Manchester City won’t retain their Premier League title, but they might just end the season with a trophy.
Roberto Mancini’s side defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley today and will be hotter-than-hell-in-July favorites to beat Wigan Athletic in next month’s final.
After yesterday’s easy win for Wigan over Millwall in the other semi-final, this match lived up to the hype as Chelsea mounted a stirring second-half comeback from an 0-2 hole.
Samir Nasri opened the scoring after 35 minutes, bundling the ball in after a strong run from Yaya Toure and a touch from Sergio Aguero (pictured). It was a messy finish, but no wonder Nasri was delighted: it was his first goal since October 24. The contest looked over when Aguero added another two minutes into the second period, expertly looping a header in off Petr Cech’s far post.
But Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez summoned Fernando Torres from the bench after 66 minutes and adding another forward to help Demba Ba made a potent impact, stretching City’s defense and changing the pattern of play. Straight after Torres’ arrival, Ba superbly hooked the ball beyond City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon. It was the first goal the Romanian has conceded in the FA Cup this season – he has played in every round, with Mancini opting to give first-choice Joe Hart a rest.
City were indebted to Pantilimon for twice making excellent saves, from Juan Mata and Demba Ba, as Chelsea pressed for an equalizer that never quite came. Aguero, though, could face retrospective disciplinary action for appearing to trample on David Luiz with both feet. Since the referee, Chris Foy, did not even hand the striker a yellow card, he presumably failed to notice the seriousness of the foul.
Chelsea still have a Europa League semi-final against Basel to come, while City can hope for an exciting and successful end to their campaign. It won’t quite live up to last year’s climax, but it would be some compensation for a disappointing year.