LONDON - Ilkay Gundogan’s jaw-dropping double fired treble-chasing Manchester City to an unforgettable FA Cup final win against rivals Manchester United.
Wembley witnessed an all-Manchester epic on Saturday as the neighbours met in a major final for the first time, bringing the curtain down on the domestic season in enthralling fashion.
City emerged triumphant thanks to Gundogan’s fine volleys in a 2-1 victory that gives Pep Guardiola’s men the chance to emulate United’s 1999 treble heroics next weekend.
The 32-year-old midfielder has proven to be a man for the big occasions during his time with the Premier League champions and lashed home a record-breaking opener after just 12 seconds.
Gundogan’s stupendous volley was the quickest FA Cup final goal and looked set to spark a derby humiliation, only for United to draw level against the run of play.
City were enraged by the decision to award handball against Jack Grealish, but captain Bruno Fernandes kept his cool from the spot to slot home in front of the opposition support.
But Guardiola’s men would not be denied a seventh FA Cup triumph, with Gundogan volleying home what proved to be the winner from the edge of the box early in the second half.
Victory in arguably the biggest Manchester derby of all time now means City can win the treble in next weekend’s Champions League final against Inter Milan.
As for United, this was a galling end to a promising first season under Erik ten Hag. They hit the woodwork in stoppage time, but a second equaliser was beyond them.
Wembley was rocking to City’s tune at the final whistle, just as it was after 12 seconds.
Gundogan played the kick-off straight to back-up goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who fired a long ball forward for Erling Haaland to flick on.
Victor Lindelof looked to have dealt with the danger when heading clear, only for Gundogan to produce a moment of magic.
The City skipper met the looping ball with a stupendous right-footed volley from 22 yards that flew past a statuesque David De Gea.
It was a start as remarkable as the strike, rocking United on their heels.
City fans thought they had a second in the fourth minute as Rodri rippled the side-netting from a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick. Grealish soon dragged wide.
Haaland fired a hopeful effort over and De Bruyne lasered wide after De Gea received treatment as City probed for what felt like an inevitable second.
United looked uneasy and were creating precious little, only for a moment of fortune to bring a chance to level from the spot.
Handball appeals against Grealish from an Aaron Wan-Bissaka header appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, only for VAR David Coote to intervene.
Referee Paul Tierney checked the pitchside monitor and pointed to the spot, with Fernandes keeping his cool to send Ortega the wrong way after a stuttering run-up.
United celebrated in front of the City hordes and Lindelof was hit by an object from the stands.
Guardiola’s men were aggrieved and were soon haranguing the referee, claiming Fred fouled De Bruyne in the box.
Those appeals were ignored and Raphael Varane fired over a decent chance before the break.
City returned from the break reinvigorated and skipper Gundogan struck again in the 51st minute.
Having been fouled by Fred on the right flank, De Bruyne arrowed a ball to the Germany international on the edge of the box.
Inexplicably unmarked, Gundogan volleyed into the ground and his shot bounced past De Gea, sneaking into the bottom right-hand corner in front of the City faithful.
Lindelof nearly turned a De Bruyne cross into his own goal and the Belgian maestro was then denied by De Gea as they looked to put the final to bed.
Marcus Rashford whistled over before Gundogan thought he had completed his hat-trick. De Gea denied Haaland’s initial attempt and the skipper followed in, only to be ruled offside.
Lively substitute Alejandro Garnacho bent just wide from the edge of the box as United pushed for another equaliser, giving City gaps to exploit.
Bernardo Silva’s cross-shot flashed across the face of goal and Haaland nearly bundled in a clearance.
United so nearly found a stoppage-time equaliser, with Varane and Scott McTominay involved in a scramble that ended with the ball hitting the bar and then just going over.
But that was it as City celebrated the league and FA Cup double – achievements that could be added to in Istanbul next weekend.