Gabriel Jesus heads Manchester City into their 14th FA Cup final

Saturday 06 Apr 2019
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus heads home at Wembley Stadium connected by EE

The first cut is often the deepest – and so it proved as Gabriel Jesus' early header fired Manchester City to their first Emirates FA Cup Final since 2013.

Maintaining their four-pronged assault on all available silverware, Pep Guardiola's side overcame a spirited Brighton, with one expertly-crafted piece of quality in the game's opening moments putting paid to the Seagulls.

In front of 71,521 fans at Wembley, Chris Hughton's troops refused to be bamboozled by Guardiola's oft-transcendent outfit but Jesus' telling contribution booked City another trip to the home of football and the opportunity to challenge for the world's original cup competition once again. 

It took less than four minutes for City to strike, their typically ruthless precision clipping the Seagulls' wings in a flash.

A glorious clip to the wing from Aymeric Laporte saw Bernardo Silva expertly cushion the ball into the path of Kevin De Bruyne – the Belgian then whipped a devilish low cross into the box, which cut out the Brighton defence and allowed Gabriel Jesus to stoop and gleefully head home.

It took time for Brighton to steady themselves, Davy Propper flashing their first effort of the tie wide of the mark as he tried his luck from the edge of the area midway through the first half.

Just past the half-hour mark, City defender Kyle Walker and Alireza Jahanbakhsh were both cautioned for going head-to-head following a coming together by the byline, the video assistant referee adjudging that the former shouldn't receive a red for his part in the altercation.

VAR rules against a red card for City's Kyle Walker

With Jesus' early breakthrough the only thing separating the two teams at the break, the Seagulls were alive and kicking, and in the early throes of the second half, Shane Duffy saw his header from a corner, looping agonisingly towards goal, hooked over the crossbar by the covering Laporte.

On the hour mark, Brighton keeper Mat Ryan comfortably dealt with an Ilkay Gundogan volley while the Australian also had to be at his best to deal with an arcing effort from Raheem Sterling shortly afterwards.

As the clock counted down, Brighton remained unbowed, holding firm in the face of every one of City's probing, testing attacking patterns.

A smattering of late corners raised the volume from the travelling supporters clad in white and royal blue but the Seagulls were unable to construct a way back into the tie on their fifth appearance at Wembley.

Instead, City were able to celebrate safe passage into the 14th FA Cup final in their history.

With a last-gasp counter-attack, Sterling was denied by Ryan, leaving it to Jesus to retain the match-winning credit for his early poacher's effort.

Manchester City: 31 Ederson, 22 Benjamin Mendy, 14 Aymeric Laporte, 30 Nicolas Otamendi, 2 Kyle Walker, 20 Bernardo Silva, 21 David Silva (C), 17 Kevin De Bruyne, 7 Raheem Sterling, 33 Gabriel Jesus

Substitutes: 3 Danilo for Walker 45, 25 Fernandinho for De Bruyne 65, 5 John Stones for Mendy 79

Substitutes not used: 49 Aro Muric, 19 Leroy Sane, 26 Riyad Mahrez, 47 Phil Foden

Head coach: Pep Guardiola

Goals: Jesus 4

Brighton & Hove Albion: 1 Mathew Ryan. 22 Martin Montoya, 4 Shane Duffy, 5 Lewis Dunk (C), 30 Bernardo, 6 Dale Stephens, 24 Davy Propper, 8 Yves Bissouma, 11 Anthony Knockaert, 17 Glenn Murray, 16 Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Substitutes: 10 Florin Andone for Murray 66, 19 Jose Izquierdo for Jahanbakhsh 70, 9 Jurgen Locadia for Bissouma 82

Substitutes not used: 27 David Button, 2 Bruno, 3 Gaetan Bong, 33 Dan Burn 

Head coach: Chris Hughton

By Dan Barnes at Wembley Stadium connected by EE