To make a significant step toward their place in history, they only needed 12 seconds of the FA Cup final matchup with Manchester United.
The City captain’s second goal, a weak effort from outside the 18-yard box that United goalkeeper David de Gea should have saved, was enough to defeat Erik ten Hag’s team for a 2-1 victory, leaving Pep Guardiola’s team needing to defeat Inter Milan in next Saturday’s Champions League final to become just the second English team to win the competition.
Ilkay Gundogan’s opening goal, the fastest in FA Cup final history, was cancelled out by a penalty in the first half.
The initial? United from 1999. The red side of Manchester failed to preserve their forefathers’ brilliant history despite the challenge — the requirement — to be an obstacle in City’s path to matching their singular triumph.
Little more than “hit and hope” could be said about United’s strategy. They tried it, with the occasional long-range shot, but that strategy can never be successful against the City team.
In order to defeat City in Istanbul the following week, Inter will need a better game plan and better players.
However, much as the Premier League trophy and FA Cup have been this season, the European Cup appearing to be draped in sky blue ribbons already seems inevitable.
After the game, Guardiola said, “We can talk about the treble.” “Of course, we still need to win the Champions League, but we gave our city and our supporters a fantastic performance.
We are in a situation that is probably unique to us.
Guardiola, striker Erling Haaland (who was unusually quiet at Wembley), and the midfield strength offered by Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, and Rodri are just a few of the factors contributing to the feeling that City is getting close to completing part three of its trophy trilogy.
However, the plain fact about City is that they have the ability to triumph, regardless of the opposition they face or the difficulty of the task at hand.
Want to challenge City? If you do, you risk being destroyed like Real Madrid was in last month’s 4-0 defeat in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
It’s possible that you sit back and try to frustrate, but it simply encourages the City to launch wave after wave of assaults, rushing past opponents and crushing them.
United made a further attempt. Ten Hag sent in Fred to man-mark De Bruyne in an effort to stop City’s offensive threat, but it just left Gundogan and Rodri with a ton of room in the middle of the field, while John Stones, an additional midfielder, also caused an issue that United couldn’t solve.
It was similar to a journeyman boxer throwing careless punches in the hopes of connecting with a big blow when United managed to acquire a foothold in the game halfway through the first half and create a sense of chaos with Fernandes and their strikers trying to stretch the City defense.
However, United simply wore themselves out, and after City reclaimed the lead, there was never really any sense that they would give up again.
When Alejandro Garnacho came on as a substitute at the hour mark, United tried the irregular flurry once more, but City constantly kept them at arm’s length.
With the title already locked up and Guardiola resting key players in front of the FA Cup and Champions League finals, City has only lost once in their last 27 games, a 1-0 loss at Brentford on the last day of the Premier League season.
They are a team in unmatched form and have not only defeated all of their competitors but also handed several of them severe losses.
Good luck to Inter, as Arsenal, Liverpool, and Madrid have all recently given up four goals to City.
The reality check United needs to heed is that even though they didn’t take a beating, they still lost.
Teams like United should be able to find that extra something to defeat City when the chance arises because even when City is not at their best, they still win.
City are currently so far in front of the pack that it is up to the pursuers to figure out a means to capture them.
City is the only team now finding a way, and you anticipate them to do so against Inter the next week.
The past beckons. Yes, it has been done before, but City’s joy at completing the treble while also preventing United from ever claiming it as their own makes it even sweeter.
Two down, one to go.