Manchester City’s mission to win a treble of major trophies stayed on track after beating Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup final, with the first of Ilkay Gundogan’s two goals coming after just a record 13 seconds.
With City having already retained the Premier League, now only a first-ever Champions League title stands between Pep Guardiola’s team and immortality in English football.
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Gundogan, City’s captain, scored the quickest goal in an FA Cup final on Saturday – timed by British broadcaster BBC at 12.91 seconds – only for United midfielder Bruno Fernandes to convert a 33rd-minute penalty against the run of play after Jack Grealish was adjudged to have handled the ball.
If Gundogan’s opener was probably his best goal for City, his 51st-minute winning goal might be one of his scrappiest as he met a cross from Kevin De Bruyne from a free kick with a left-foot volley that bobbled between two United defenders and past goalkeeper David de Gea.
United were looking to protect their proud status as the only team to win the league-FA Cup-European Cup treble, in 1999, but now need a favour from Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10.
It was the 142nd FA Cup final and the first between the two Manchester clubs, with Prince William and United great David Beckham among those in attendance at England’s national stadium.
Smoke from the pre-match pyrotechnics had not even cleared when City took the lead in spectacular fashion.
Keeper Stefan Ortega launched a long punt towards Erling Haaland and as the ball bounced into the path of Gundogan, who did not hesitate to send a dipping right-foot volley arcing over a transfixed de Gea.
It eclipsed the previous fastest FA Cup final goal scored by Louis Saha after 25 seconds for Everton against Chelsea in 2009 and City threatened to run riot.
Rodri and Jack Grealish both failed to convert good chances in the opening five minutes during which United barely touched the ball. Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne also went close for City before United were handed an unexpected gift.
When United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka headed a diagonal ball harmlessly across the area it appeared innocuous but, as play continued, referee Paul Tierney was instructed to check a pitch side monitor for a possible handball by Grealish.
To the unlucky Grealish’s dismay, and the delight of the thousands of red-clad United fans at the east end of the stadium, Tierney pointed to the spot and Fernandes calmly shuffled up to send Ortega the wrong way with his penalty.
It energised United and Raphael Varane volleyed over from a corner as half-time approached.
City needed slightly longer in the second half to re-establish their superiority and again it was Gundogan displaying his knack of scoring crucial goals.
This time the German was picked out by De Bruyne’s chipped pass and his left-foot volley, not struck anywhere near as perfectly as his earlier effort, bounced its way through a crowded area and crept inside de Gea’s right-hand post.
Gundogan was denied a hat-trick by an offside flag and as the minutes ticked down City began to look edgy with United substitute Alejandro Garnacho curling a shot agonisingly wide while a goalmouth scramble in stoppage time ended with the ball bouncing off City’s crossbar.
City’s class of 2023 became the 13th team in English footballing history to clinch a league-and-cup double while the Abu Dhabi-controlled team won a 16th trophy since 2011, when City ended its 35-year title drought by winning the FA Cup.
It was the 13th trophy in Guardiola’s seven years at the club and the 34th of his managerial career.
The latest haul of trophies has come in the same season that the club was charged by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of financial rules. City has denied the charges.
After the final whistle, City’s players 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 might leave City after the Champions League final because he is out of contract. He would depart as a club great.
“This group deserves it. I think we played really well, especially the second half was amazing,” Gundogan told the BBC, but would not be drawn on his future.
“I don’t need these kind of days to feel appreciated and special at this club. Nothing is decided yet, so we’re going to see what will happen.”