LONDON — Three goals for Riyad Mahrez have protected Manchester City’s bid for three trophies.
The Algerian forward’s hat trick in a 3-0 win against Sheffield United on Saturday advanced City to the FA Cup final.
Having secured a place in the semifinals of the Champions League this week, Pep Guardiola’s team took another step toward a treble with a routine victory at Wembley Stadium. The FA Cup final in June will be against Manchester United or Brighton.
City can also seize control of the English Premier League title race against leader Arsenal on Wednesday.
In City’s current mood, it is difficult to see anyone stopping the defending league champion from emulating Manchester United’s 1999 treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup glory.
Certainly not second-division side Sheffield, whose chance of an historic FA Cup shock was effectively ended in the 43rd minute when Mahrez struck from the penalty spot after Daniel Jebbison fouled Bernardo Silva in the box.
Mahrez doubled City’s lead in the 61st when running straight through the heart of Sheffield’s defense and firing past Wes Foderingham.
The third came five minutes later when turning home Jack Grealish’s pass.
City was unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions and was not at its devastating best on Saturday, when leading scorer Erling Haaland failed to add to his 48 goals this season in a subdued performance.
Sheffield, which is on the brink of promotion to the Premier League, might have made more of a contest of it if Ilman Ndiaye had converted a close-range effort in the second minute, which was saved by Stefan Ortega.
LEICESTER FINALLY WINS
A first win in 11 games lifted Leicester out of the relegation zone. Despite going behind to a Matheus Cunha goal, Kelechi Iheanacho and Timothy Castagna struck as the Foxes beat Wolverhampton 2-1 at King Power Stadium to move them out of the bottom three on goal difference.
It was a good start for new manager Dean Smith in his first home game in charge since replacing the fired Brendan Rodgers.
That meant Everton dropped to 18th, despite a creditable 0-0 draw at in-form Crystal Palace that highlighted the Merseyside club’s struggles in front of goal.
The Toffees have scored only 24 times, lowest in the league.
LEEDS LOSES AGAIN
While Leeds avoided a third straight rout, losing to Fulham 2-1 was another blow to the Yorkshire club’s battle to avoid the drop.
Having conceded 11 goals in it last two games – losing 5-1 to Palace and 6-1 to Liverpool – this was certainly an improvement for Javi Gracia’s team, but wins are increasingly hard to come by.
Harry Wilson and Andreas Pereira put Fulham two up before an own goal from Joao Palhinha.
Tuesday’s home game against Leicester could be absolutely crucial to both teams’ hopes of survival.
LIVERPOOL FINDING FORM
Jurgen Klopp recorded his 100th league win at Anfield after Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.
But perhaps more importantly, Liverpool’s second win in succession pointed to a long-awaited upturn in form in an inconsistent campaign.
Relegation-threatened Forest twice came back before Mohamed Salah’s winner in the 70th.
Diogo Jota put Liverpool in front twice in the second half, and Forest responded through Neco Williams and Morgan Gibbs-White.
“We gave away two goals too easy and in a game like this you have to control possession,” Kloppp said. “You don’t have to force it and sometimes we forced it.”
Defeat increased the pressure on Forest manager Steve Cooper in an 11-game winless run.
“Nobody will be happy coming out of here because we have lost a football match and it adds to the run,” he said. “It doesn’t look favorable at all, we know that. But we must take some heart from the spirit and mentality in one of the hardest away games in Europe, never mind the Premier League.”
BRENTFORD HOLDS VILLA
Aston Villa’s five-game winning streak was halted in a 1-1 draw at Brentford.
The Midlands club sparked hopes of an unlikely push for the top four after winning seven of its last eight games before Saturday’s game. But Ivan Toney’s goal put Brentford on the brink victory before Douglas Luiz struck in the 87th to earn a draw for Villa.
“We can play better and we have to demand to play better for the next matches,” Villa manager Unai Emery said.
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