Manchester City dominated the 2018/19 season, becoming the first team to complete a domestic treble of trophies, culminating in a 6-0 thrashing of Watford in the final. However, it was the visit to Swansea in March 2019 that gave an inclination that City’s name was on the trophy.
The blues were on an incredible run of form, winning their last ten matches in all competitions, and losing just once in 19 matches. That run not only included FA Cup thrashings of Rotherham (7-0), Burnley (5-0) and Newport (4-1), but a 10-0 aggregate League Cup semi-final win over Burton, a 10-2 aggregate victory over Schalke in the Champions League and a 6-0 battering of Chelsea in the Premier League, before beating the same team on penalties at Wembley in the League Cup Final.
Swansea stood in the way of the blues reaching the FA Cup semi-final and for a while, it looked like the Swans would become the new Wigan Athletic and deny the blues another opportunity for the treble. And thanks to VAR not being present at the Liberty Stadium, City were fortunate to progress.
Two goals in nine first half minutes had put the Swans in control. Fabien Delph upended Swans right back Connor Roberts and Matt Grimes buried the penalty. City’s treble dream looked in tatters just before the half hour mark when Bersant Celina’s brilliant finish sent the Swans 2-0 up. The second goal could well have been taken from a Pep Guardiola text book, with the keeper starting the move in his own penalty area, showing the kind of confidence on the ball you would see from Ederson. Swansea moved the ball quickly down the field and the ball to Celina exposed City’s questionable back line and Swansea fans were in dreamland.
The blues got back into the game when Bernardo Silva hit a magnificent strike with the outside of his boot, around the keeper and into the goal to start the fightback with 21 minutes to go. On 78 minutes, City were handed a golden opportunity to level the scores from the penalty spot after Cameron Carter-Vickers was adjudged to have brought down Raheem Sterling.
Replays showed the defender getting a touch on the ball, but without the benefit of VAR, which was only being trialled at Premier League grounds in the FA Cup, City benefitted and levelled the scores, although Sergio Aguero seemed to do his best to miss hit. His penalty hit the inside of the post and it would almost certainly have bounced out to safety, had it not hit the keeper’s legs, diverting the ball into the back of the net.
Two slices of luck turned into the with two minutes remaining. Silva’s cross was met by the head of Aguero to make it 3-2 to City and break Swansea hearts. In fairness, Aguero was offside as the ball was played in and VAR would certainly have disallowed it. But in its absence, the blues again benefitted and went through to face Brighton in the semi-final.
Final Score: Swansea City 2-3 Manchester City
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