City Wins 2nd Phase in Charge Toward Treble

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland celebrates with the trophy after the English F.A. Cup final against Manchester United on Saturday.

LONDON (AP) — The second leg of Manchester City’s treble mission is secure.

Add the F.A. Cup, after a 2-1 win over great rival Manchester United on Saturday, to its latest Premier League title.

Now only a first Champions League title stands between City and immortality in English soccer.

“We’re in a position,” City manager Pep Guardiola said, “that we’ll probably never be in again.”

Ilkay Gundogan scored two goals — the first inside 13 seconds, for the quickest in 142 years of F.A. Cup finals — to lead City to a 16th trophy since 2011 in what is looking like the crowning season in the tenure of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.

If the Germany midfielder’s opener, a perfectly executed volley from the edge of the area, was probably his best goal of his seven years at City, his 51st-minute winner at Wembley Stadium might be one of his scrappiest.

This time it was a volley with his left foot after being picked out by Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick from the right wing. The ball bobbled between two United defenders and squirmed past goalkeeper David De Gea, who might have been slightly unsighted but should have done better.

United was looking to protect its proud status as the only team to win the league-F.A. Cup-European Cup treble, in 1999, and equalized against the run of play through a penalty by Bruno Fernandes in the 33rd minute.

Late pressure saw United hit the crossbar through Raphael Varane. The team needs a favor from Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul next Saturday to thwart’s City’s treble bid.

“What a privilege — we are one game away,” Guardiola said.

City’s class of 2023 became the 13th team in English soccer history to clinch a league-and-F.A. Cup double. It has happened twice under Guardiola, who has won 13 trophies in his seven years at the club and 34 in his managerial career.

The latest haul of titles has come in the same season the club was charged by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of financial rules. City denies the charges and the players certainly weren’t thinking of them after the final whistle blew as they ran from the halfway line and jumped for joy in front of their fans waving blue and white flags.

Right at the heart of the celebrations was Gundogan, who — as it stands — will be leaving City after the Champions League final because he is out of contract. He would depart as a club great and an F.A. Cup record-breaker.

The opening goal was timed by British broadcaster BBC at 12.91 seconds and came after Gundogan, City’s captain, took the kickoff himself. He passed the ball back to goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who booted it forward for Erling Haaland to flick on. United defender Victor Lindelof could only partially clear to Gundogan, who volleyed in right-footed from 20 meters.

“We aimed for that, to aim for Erling and to try to get the second ball quick,” Gundogan said.

The goal jolted United, which was outplayed until a controversial decision to award a penalty against Jack Grealish for handball as he raised his arms while jumping to block a header into the box by United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Play continued and there were few on-field appeals by United’s players, but the incident was reviewed by VAR and a penalty was awarded after the referee looked at the pitchside monitor.

Fernandes sauntered up to the ball and sent Ortega the wrong way.