Manchester City celebrate after winning the all-Manchester FA Cup Final

The Manchester FA Cup Final – June 2023

Manchester City 2 – 1 Manchester United

Manchester FA Cup Final - Wembley Stadium. Manchester City celebrate

The Blues take the spoils

Ilkay Gundogan helped secure the FA Cup for the Blues of Manchester City with a brace, scoring in each half of a thrilling game at Wembley. Gundogan took only 13 seconds, a new FA Cup Final record, to score his first after a punt upfield from the City keeper, Stefan Ortega. City started the first half and from the kick-off, the ball made its way to the City goalkeeper who launched one into United’s half. Victor Lindelof and Erling Haaland contested the ball which fell kindly to Gundogan, who struck the ball sweetly with his right, catching De Gea, the United keeper, off guard. De Gea just watched, stuck like a rabbit in the proverbial headlights, as the ball fired into the top corner. The United players, fans and coaching staff watched in disbelief while the City collective went wild. It couldn’t have been a better start for the Blues.

United had won five of their last six FA Cup meetings with City, most recently a 3-2 away win in January 2012. The only exception in that run was a semi-final victory for Man City in 2010-11. But it was going to be a hard slog with United one down within the first seconds of the game.

United came into the game as underdogs, something that doesn’t happen that often. City had already secured the Premier League title and are in the European Cup final this coming weekend. This game was their chance at the treble and they didn’t waste it.

Ilkay Gundogan helped secure the FA Cup

City dominated the all-Manchester FA Cup Final

City dominated the game from the off. They had most of the play and closed down the United players the moment they lost the ball. City had the upper hand in every position on the pitch, but somehow United made a fist of it.

Just past the half-hour mark and a hopeful ball into the box may have struck Jack Grealish’s hand and some of the United players claimed handball. The referee waved play on and the game continued. A minute or so later, the referee, Paul Tierney, was summoned to the sidelines to review the handball.  Generally, when that happens, it’s the VAR referee who has seen something that the man in the middle has missed. Tierney checked the pitch side monitor and the penalty was awarded. Bruno Fernandes, the United captain, calmly stepped up. A hop skip and a jump and a side foot into the opposing corner Ortega had guessed and United were back in the game.

A rejuvenated United then seemed to get into the game but it always felt like City were in control. Although a few of the City players were not firing on all cylinders, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland, included, City always seemed the stronger team. Even though a couple of the City team were having off days, the United squad just wasn’t able to compete.

Ten Hag, the Manchester United manager, has no doubt had a great first full season in charge and the United fans can take positives from the season. A trophy, an FA Cup final, 3rd position in the league and a place back in European football didn’t look possible at the beginning of the season. So, all things considered, a pretty positive end. Ten Hag needs to buy a couple of superstars to be able to challenge the Manchester City domination next season. Maybe new Manchester United owners will help with that?

Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United scores a penalty during the FA Cup Final

All square at half time

United managed to make it into the break at one a piece. Many of the United faithful were happy at that result, believing City quite easily could be 3 or 4 up at the break, the way they had destroyed other teams recently, particularly a decent real Madrid side. But, with this being a local derby, you just can never tell.

The second half started pretty much like the first half ended. With City controlling the game with the majority of possession and United trying to attack on the break. It wasn’t as one-sided as a lot of people predicted. In fact, it was a pretty flowing game between two top teams but with City just looking the more likely to win it.

On the 50th minute, Gundogan’s volley found its way in the back of the net with a pretty tame shot that should have been saved from De Gea, again, who seemed to be glued to his spot.

United rallied and in the dying minutes hit the woodwork with a Fernandes effort. But it wasn’t to be, City held out pretty comfortably to finish the game 2 – 1 and a 2nd trophy in the bag.

'The Treble' The European Champion Clubs' Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League Trophy

The City treble

The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League series will end at Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium this coming Saturday, 10 June 2023. The final will kick off at 21:00 CET. Manchester City and Inter Milan will meet in the final for the first time. City booked their final spot at the expense of holders Real Madrid, while the Nerazzurri progressed as a result of a 3-0 aggregate defeat of city rivals AC Milan in the semi-finals.

Manchester City go into this game as odds on favourites with most of the bookies offering odds as high as 6/1 for Milan (in a two-horse race!) I can’t see many realists thinking anything other than a City win and the holy grail of football trophies.

Final Word

Although I am a United fan, I’m still from Manchester. I wish my Blue compatriots all the very best this coming weekend. Hopefully, they have something more to be noisy about and go on to beat Milan! If they do complete the treble, it can only be a good thing for football in Manchester and Manchester as a whole! The open-top bus celebrations in the city no doubt would be awesome. I’ve always been surprised how some fans will support teams from another part of the world over home rivals. Personally, I would always secretly support City over say Liverpool, or Real Madrid, or Milan, if United were already out of that title race or competition. But, that’s just me!

Good luck City! A historic treble awaits and your names are etched in history!

Mike (Manchester United Fan!)