KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY —- Manchester City and Manchester United made history with the first FA Cup Final repeat at Wembley. But it will live on in memory, instead, for maintaining the grand old competition’s tradition of upsets after United resolutely withstood a City onslaught to win the trophy for the 13th time in their record-setting 22nd appearance.

If this was the last match in charge for United manager Erik ten Hag then he could not have headed out of English football on the back of a more perfectly-judged strategy.

Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo struck on the break twice in 10 first-half minutes and they clung on despite a late City strike from ever-dangerous substitite Jeremy Doku. The manner of United’s success was that they rendered England star Phil Foden virtually anonymous and prevented City following up their historic fourth successive league title with the first double-double.

Two faces of a final . . . in victory and defeat

United thus enter European competition after all next season via the Europa League with Chelsea dropping down into the UEFA Conference League and Newcastle being pushed out of Europa altogether – a sort of Magpie Brexit.

United manager Ten Hag had been staging his own version of Custer’s Last Stand. His United finished eighth in the league, their lowest position since 1990 and he knew that only an unlikely victory against a City team who had beaten them 2-1 in last season’s final, would keep them in Europe.

Ten Hag sent out a team set up for this one-off occasion. They might have conceded a penalty in the first penalty for a push on Erling Haaland but survived and gradually grew in confidence. Garnacho even delivered the first meaningful shot of the final which was safely grasped by City’s cups keeper Stefan Ortega.

Even better, United took the lead on the break in the 29th minute. A long ball forward over the top from Diogo Dalot prompted a mix-up between Josip Gvardiol and Ortega with the defender, under pressure, heading back beyond his keeper. Garnacho, who had been played onside by John Stones, duly ran the ball into the net.

Marcus Rashford had a goal disallowed for offside in the 37th minute but, no matter, United struck again for real two minutes later. Garnacho again played a key role with the right-wing raid which created space for Bruno Fernandes to move the ball on so man-of-the-match Mainoo could shoot low beyond Ortega.


City, defiant, brought on Manuel Akanji and Doku for the second half and raised the pace of the game as they put United under serious pressure for almost the first time. Nine minutes in and a Doku cross was swiped against the bar by Haaland, shooting on the turn.

Guardiola reacted further by replacing the out-of-sorts De Bruyne with Julian Alvarez.

A drive from Kyle Walker was spectacularly saved for a corner by Pierre Onana then Alvarez fired hastily over the bar before sliding a low shot wide after being played in by Foden.

City began to realise that United were not prepared to lie down as had so many previous opponents and the duel grew increasingly scrappy and testy. City were unrecognisable from the smooth, unruffled team of almost all the rest of the season yet, with three minutes remaining, they finally struck back.

Doku, having switched from left wing to right and back again, wriggled into the United penalty box, cut inside and surprised Onana with a low shot between the keeper and the near post. It was a piece of defiance but, as it proved, only in defeat.

City, to their credit, formed a guard of honour for United players as their conquerors walked up to receive the cup and their winner’s medals.

The teams

Man. City: Ortega – Walker, Stones, Ake (Akanji 46), Gvardiol – Bernardo, Silva, Rodri, Kovacic (Doku 46) – De Bruyne (Alvarez 56), Foden – Haaland.

Man. Utd: Onana – Wan-Bissaa, Varane, L Martinez (Evans 72), Dalot – Amrabat, Mainoo – McTominay – Garnacho, B Fernandes, Rashford (Hojlund 72).

Ref: A Madley. Attendance: 84,814.