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FA Cup - Football: Liverpool see off City to book Wembley return

After last Sunday's thrilling 2-2 draw at the Etihad, Man City and Liverpool resumed their hostilities on Saturday at Wembley and they again didn't disappoint.

While their previous clash was in the Premier League, a return to the national stadium was on the line here as they met in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Liverpool led 3-0 at the break and weathered a second-half storm to progress 3-2. After lifting the EFL Cup in February, they are now 4/9 to complete a Wembley double when they return to London against the winner of Sunday's second semi-final between Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

City selection raises eyebrows

Both teams made it into the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday. However, those second-leg ties were played out in contrasting styles, with Liverpool able to rotate against Benfica while City squeezed through a bruising encounter against Atletico Madrid.

That was reflected in the starting XIs on Saturday, with City without Kyle Walker and Kevin de Bruyne only on the bench, while Pep Guardiola handed rare starts to Zack Steffen, Nathan Ake, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho and Jack Grealish.

Liverpool matched their opponents' seven changes but were able to recall the likes of Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to name argubaly their best XI.

Ibrahima Konate headed the Reds ahead early on, before Sadio Mane made the most of Steffen's uncertainty on the ball to slide in on the American and divert home before his sliced volley beat the goalkeeper at the near post to put Liverpool 3-0 up at the break.

However, the Citizens came out with greater impetus, Jack Grealish getting one back while Alisson twice thwarted Brazil teammate Gabriel Jesus.

Bernardo Silva made it 3-2 in stoppage time but City failed to force an equaliser and it will be Liverpool who return to Wembley on 14th May.

Psychological advantage now with Reds?

The win means Liverpool remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, both domestic cups, and the Champions League.

City still lead by a point in the league and are 2/5 to defend their crown, with the Reds 2/1.

Walker's injury and Kevin de Bruyne only being fit enough for a place on the bench meant Guardiola had little choice but to change things up.

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Liverpool, meanwhile, were probably at their strongest and do look exceptionally good heading into the final weeks of the season.

This may not be their last direct duel before the end of the season, with it conceivable that they could meet in the Champions League final on 28th May.

That outcome is 8/13 and while Saturday's win will give Liverpool plenty of confidence, Guardiola and his players will take heart that they pushed their rivals despite not being at their best.

What next for the big two?

Both City and Liverpool are in Premier League action in midweek as they continue their respective pushes to top the standings.

The Reds face the other Manchester club, Man Utd, on Tuesday. They are 2/5 to win the game, having ran out the 5-0 winners in October's reverse fixture at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick helped Ralf Rangnick's men bundle past Norwich 3-2 on Saturday but they again demonstrated the type of defensive flaws that Liverpool will look to exploit.

City, meanwhile, take on Brighton on Wednesday, a game they are 2/11 to win, but the Seagulls will be buoyed after making it a north London double with their 1-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday.

Liverpool then host Everton in the Merseyside derby on 24th April, a game they are 1/5 to win, before welcoming Villarreal to Anfield three days later for the opening leg of their Champions League semi-final.

For the Citizens, Watford are the visitors to the Etihad on 23rd April before the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid the following Tuesday.

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