Soccer-Angry Man City boss Guardiola criticises FA Cup semi-final scheduling

Soccer Football - FA Cup - Semi Final - Manchester City v Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - April 20, 2024 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts REUTERS/David Klein

LONDON (Reuters) -Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lashed out at the FA Cup schedule after his side beat Chelsea 1-0 to reach the final on Saturday, three days after their treble bid was ended by defeat on penalties by Real Madrid in the Champions League.

A late goal by Bernardo Silva got holders City over the line although they rode their luck against a Chelsea side who were punished for not taking the numerous chances they created.

City, who were without fatigued striker Erling Haaland, lacked their usual zip and, despite reaching another final, Guardiola was clearly agitated at his side's lack of recovery time after the heartache of Wednesday's Champions League exit.

"It's unacceptable to let us play today," Guardiola told the BBC's team of pundits at pitch-side. "It's impossible, for the health of the players. It's not normal. It's unacceptable. 120 minutes, the emotions of Madrid, the way we lose, honestly.

"I know this country is special (with the FA Cup) but it's for the health of the players. I don't understand how we survived today.

Guardiola could not fathom why City's game against Chelsea was not scheduled for Sunday rather than Manchester United's semi-final clash with second-tier Coventry City, neither of whom had to play a match in midweek.

Talking to reporters later, he praised the mentality of his players. "What they did today is one of the greatest things I have ever seen from a group of players after 120 minutes of football on Wednesday," he said.

"I just want to protect my players. It's common sense. I'm not asking for something special or privilege."

The exit to Real ended City's hopes of a second straight treble but Silva's goal ensured they are still very much on course to secure the Premier League/FA Cup double.

"We're happy with another final and another chance to win a trophy," Silva, who made amends for his miss in the penalty shootout, said.

"We've done it throughout the years many times. The way this team reacts to disappointments and defeats is always in the best way. Today again the team showed a lot of character."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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