Manchester City faced no issues in progressing to their third consecutive FA Youth Cup final, beating Stoke City 3-2 (9-2 on aggregate).
A Lucas Nmecha hat-trick was enough to see off Stoke, who could only respond with a brace from Jordan Greenidge.
City oozed quality in possession throughout the game and rarely struggled to cope with the pressure from Stoke. Instead, it was Lee Carsley’s side who harassed the Stoke backline and forced them into continuous errors.
City went into the second leg with a 6-0 advantage over the Potters but wasted no time in adding to their lead when Nmecha gave them the lead on the night after four minutes. Ed Francis’ phenomenal 40-yard pass found Luke Bolton on the right wing, whose drilled low cross was met by Nmecha, providing the first-time finish.
After their quick start, City appeared to relax and Stoke began to grow into the game, with former City player Tyrese Campbell and right-back Tom Edwards pulling the strings in the final third. Edwards had the better of Jacob Davenport on several occasions and his crosses were proving the best means of attack for the hosts.
Stoke eventually got their reward when a collision left Davenport in a heap, but play continued. The move resulted in Greenidge volleying past Arijanet Muric to equalise on the night and bring Stoke’s aggregate deficit back to six goals.
Just moments after the restart, however, Nmecha grabbed his second of the match. Phil Foden danced through the Stoke lines and found Nmecha on the edge of the box. The 18-year-old took one touch and fired a sublime strike into the top right corner.
Brahim Diaz, having been surprisingly ineffectual, was withdrawn in favour of Ian Carlo for the second half.
On the hour mark, Nmecha went down under challenge from a Stoke defender inside the 18-yard box, winning himself a penalty and the chance to complete his hat-trick. Nmecha stepped up calmly and slotted past Mitchell Allen for his 10th goal of the competition (including six against Stoke).
After that, the tempo of the game dropped. There were half-chances for Nmecha and substitute Colin Rosler (son of Üwe) to extend City’s lead, but the last goal came from Stoke. A deflected cross from the right-hand side fell into the feet of Greenidge, who tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
Campbell went on to continue his stand-out display in creating a few more chances but they came to no avail for Stoke.
City will now face Chelsea, who they have lost to in the final of this competition in the last two seasons, in a bid to win their first FA Youth Cup since 2008
Lucas Nmecha: His hat-trick came from very few touches – a decisiveness that City’s first team have been lacking this season. The German-born frontman now has 10 goals in six FA Youth Cup appearances this term and, while he may not be the stereotypical Guardiola player, he could be knocking on the door for a chance in the first-team shortly.
Sadou Diallo: You will notice that Diallo has not been mentioned in this report before this point, but that did not stop him dictating the game from the centre of midfield. He demonstrated many similar traits to Fernandinho and his composure in possession was particularly impressive.