ENGLAND: Bernardo, Fernandes influential as Manchester rivals head into FA Cup semis

Holders Manchester City and local rivals Manchester United are on course to meet again in the FA Cup final, after both booked their place in the last four of the world’s oldest cup competition.

City progressed on Saturday after a double from Bernardo Silva gave them a 2-0 victory over Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium. The following day at Old Trafford, United overcame Liverpool in a classic encounter, scoring a last-gasp winner in extra time to prevail 4-3.

Seleção man Bernardo had not scored at City’s Etihad Stadium since November, but his first-half goals gave Manchester City a comfortable evening against Newcastle. There was some fortune about both goals, with Bernardo’s right-footed attempt taking a notable deflection before looping over Martin Dubravka (13’), before a left-footed effort from a similar position struck Sven Botman to deceive the Czech goalkeeper.

Bernardo's double:

“Everybody loves Bernardo”

City advanced to their sixth successive FA Cup semi final, and Guardiola was typically high in praise of his Portuguese difference-maker. “Everybody loves [Bernardo] and we want him here,” Guardiola said. “Even the goals are deflections [laughs]! He’s really important for us and he stays with us. I’ve said many times how important Bernardo is personally and in terms of football.”

Rúben Dias also featured for City, who are aiming to repeat last season’s treble. The European champions were drawn against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley, while they occupy 3rd place in the Premier League, just one point off leaders Arsenal. On the continental front, a Champions League quarter-final showdown with Real Madrid awaits next month. 

Another brilliantly successful season appears on the cards for the Citizens and it is probably wise after a Mostbet download to back Pep Guardiola’s team.

Bruno turns defender as United overcome Liverpool

Manchester United’s route to the last four was far more complicated. The Red Devils welcomed arch rivals Liverpool to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, taking the spoils in a frantic and unpredictable 4-3 victory in extra time, after both sides led twice during what is being described as an all-time classic FA Cup tie.

United started Diogo Dalot at right-back and Bruno Fernandes in midfield, with Diogo Jota still absent for the visitors. Scott McTominay gave United a deserved lead during an impressive start by Erik ten Hag’s side, but Liverpool stunned Old Trafford with a quickfire double through Alexis Mac Allister (44’) and Mohamed Salah (45+1’) to take a half-time lead.

Liverpool controlled much of the second half but having failed to kill the game, the Reds were punished by substitute Antony’s equaliser with just minutes to play. With the score level at 2-2, extra time was required and Liverpool re-took the lead through Harvey Elliott’s deflected shot in the 105th minute.

United had already switched to three defenders when chasing the game in normal time and Ten Hag took another risk after Elliott’s goal by replacing former Benfica stopper Victor Lindelof with creative attacker Mason Mount. The change resulted in Bruno Fernandes dropping into the backline to engineer attacks and cover defensive transitions.

United pressed for another equaliser and it came on 112 minutes through Marcus Rashford after United had won the ball high up the pitch. United’s chaotic system meant the home side had little choice but to press for a winner, but the tie appeared to be headed to penalties until Liverpool were awarded a corner in stoppage time. United won the ensuing loose ball and broke with Alejandro Garnacho and substitute Amad Diallo, leading to Garnacho setting up Ivorian Diallo to find the bottom corner with a cool finish on 121 minutes.

“My best moment at Old Trafford” - Dalot

Old Trafford erupted and Diallo was sent off for removing his shirt, but the goal proved the winner and after the match Dalot admitted it was a particularly special occasion. “I have never experienced such an atmosphere here,” Dalot said. “It was perhaps the best moment at Old Trafford for me. I saw people crying, expressing their emotions. That’s the reason why I came here and why little boys dream of playing for United.”

Meanwhile Fernandes told post-match press: “It was great, not so much to play but to watch probably. It was amazing, the atmosphere was on fire. The belief of the team, the desire to win this game was great. At the end of the game everyone in the dressing room was dead. We couldn’t do anything more; we couldn’t even shout to celebrate. It was so hard to get the shout of happiness out, but we did what we had to do.

“We knew today was massive for us because we have to be realistic. It’s the only chance we have to win silverware, winning this. Now we have the semi final, and we know what we want – we want to win the semi-final to get to the final and have a different result to the one we had last season.”

In a nice touch, United captain Fernandes became emotional after he was praised by the club’s in-house media for his commitment to the cause. Watch below!

United will play Championship side Coventry in the semi-finals at Wembley. Should both Manchester clubs progress, they will meet in a repeat of last season’s final, which City won 2-1 as part of their treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

By @SeanGillen9