Man City 2-1 Man Utd: Ilkay Gundogan again the man for the big moments

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Ilkay Gundogan beamed as champagne corks popped around him at Wembley.

The toast was to the wonderful Manchester City captain – once again the man for big moments – after his side lifted the FA Cup following a 2-1 win over Manchester United.

Erling Haaland’s goalscoring exploits have put him in first place at City this season, but Gundogan’s consistent, decisive contribution makes him worthy of a top performance alongside the lethal Norwegian striker.

When manager Pep Guardiola needs Gundogan, the 32-year-old German has a track record of delivering. He did it again with the two goals at Wembley that settled all of Manchester’s first FA Cup final in City’s favor and left United deep in despair.

Gundogan’s future remains uncertain as he is out of contract at the end of the season amid links to Barcelona – but if Guardiola has his way, he certainly won’t let the German out of his sight, let alone leave the Etihad Stadium.

Even in his post-match press conference following his win at Wembley, Guardiola said the club were “working” on a new deal.

He was the central figure in the history of this FA Cup final, scoring the fastest goal in the history of the show just 12 seconds after kick-off. He then provided the decisive moment with a 51st-minute volley that ensured City added another honor to their Premier League triumph, with the potential Champions League crown on the horizon when they face Inter Milan in Istanbul in the final next Saturday.

Should we be surprised that Gundogan was the match winner? Not a bit of it.

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Everyone at City will want Gundogan to stay

Gundogan has the form to make a difference, as he did when he came on as a substitute to score twice on the final day of last season when City struck three times in five minutes to overturn Aston Villa’s 2-0 lead to to win the Premier League title. .

And as City embarked on one of their trademark relentless drives to overhaul Arsenal in this season’s title hunt, Gundogan produced the goods again.

He scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Leeds United in early May and two more in a 3-0 win at Everton, the first of which broke the deadlock with a piece of improvisation bordering on genius, the second a excellent free kick.

Today, it was the FA Cup winner with two more – and that first goal after 12 seconds will take its place in history.

Gundogan effectively started the game by sending the free-kick straight back to goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, his long clearance from Haaland before the combination of Victor Lindelof’s header and Kevin De Bruyne’s deflection perfectly fed the ball for a right-footed volley . went past a motionless David de Gea.

If Gundogan leaves City after the Champions League final, he has the chance to leave after lifting the most spectacular captain’s trophy in the club’s history as Guardiola’s superb side are just 90 minutes away from emulating the Manchester Treble United in 1999.

Everyone at City will want Gundogan to stay – Guardiola certainly made his own wishes known during the post-match celebrations. But one thing is indisputable: when the history of these glory years of the city is written, this hugely popular personality will claim a special place.

Two down, one to go
As for City, it’s now a case of two down and one to go. Work was done in the Premier League and the FA Cup. All that remains is the elusive Champions League – the one trophy they have never laid their hands on.

Inter must now try to succeed where those in England failed and where even holders Real Madrid came up short, caught in a blizzard of attacking football when they were crushed 4-0 in the Champions League second semi-final.

Whether it’s a harsh judgment or not, the measure of Guardiola’s genius and tenure at City will be judged by many through the prism of the Champions League. If City triumph in Istanbul, then they can officially be hailed as one of the greatest teams under the leadership of a manager who deserves his place among the best.

City weren’t really at their best after going off the boil after a stunning opening phase, allowing Manchester United back into the game when the video assistant referee ruled that Jack Grealish had handled, allowing Bruno Fernandes to complete the routine procedures from the point.

United hoped they could keep this piece of Treble history to themselves as they remained the only English team to claim the trophy. City needed a game changer.

The 51st minute comes, the man comes… And unsurprisingly, the man was Gundogan.

De Bruyne’s free-kick on the edge of the area was met by an unconvincing Gundogan volley, but the Midas touch man was rewarded again, De Gea gradually got down, the shot even bouncing twice before the keeper was late to find it. – but not with enough force to prevent City regaining the lead.

Gundogan has done it before – and everyone at Manchester City will be hoping he can find a way to keep doing it for them long into the future.

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