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Man City keeps run at title quad going

Reuters

Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi controls the ball against Brighton & Hove Albion during their English F.A. Cup semifinal match on Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London.

ReutersLONDON (Reuters) — The “impossible” quadruple dream remains intact for Manchester City after an early headed goal from Gabriel Jesus sealed a scrappy 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday to put it into the English F.A. Cup final.

Jesus launched himself into the air to connect decisively in the third minute, but City never hit top gear and rather labored to victory in an instantly forgettable match.

Nevertheless, after bagging the League Cup, being locked in a titanic battle with Liverpool for the Premier League title and having advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals, Pep Guardiola’s side remains on course for an unprecedented clean sweep.

It was a tired-looking display against Premier League relegation battler Brighton, though, and City will need to rediscover its spark ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Tottenham in the first leg of their Champions League last-eight tie.

Guardiola was quick to play down the “Q” word.

“My opinion is that nobody has done it [won the quadruple], so why can we do it?,” Guardiola said.

“It is almost impossible to achieve everything, that is the truth. Our fans will come, more than today, for the final, we are losing players every game but still we will try to do it.

“I am happy to be in the final, we extend our season by one more week and we are happy for that.”

Back at Wembley where it beat Chelsea on penalties to win the League Cup in February, City was huge favorite to get past a Brighton side with other things on its mind.

Whatever plan Brighton boss Chris Hughton had cooked up to stop a City side that had won 20 of its last 22 matches in all competitions was in tatters after only three minutes.

In one of the only fluid moves put together all afternoon at a less-than-full Wembley, Kevin de Bruyne whipped in a superb low cross and Jesus arrived at the far post to plant a diving header past Brighton keeper Matthew Ryan.

The Brighton fans, who greatly outnumbered City’s in the crowd of 71,000, must have feared the worst in the south coast’s club’s first F.A. Cup semifinal since 1983, when it beat Sheffield Wednesday before losing the final to Manchester United in a replay after the first game ended 2-2.

But the onslaught never arrived.

City will face the winner of the other semifinal on Sunday between Watford and Wolverhampton.

In Premier League action, striker Jamie Vardy scored twice to help Leicester City to a commanding 4-1 victory at relegated Huddersfield Town.

It was a fourth win in a row for manager Brendan Rodgers, who took charge of Leicester in February, while Huddersfield missed the chance to move off the bottom of the standings for the first time since December.

Burnley made a big step toward securing Premier League survival after coming back from a goal down to beat Bournemouth 3-1 away, as striker Ashley Barnes scored at both ends in an action-packed contest.

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