Bernardo Silva goal celebration vs Chelsea shows hidden Man City quality

Down, yet anything but out.

Manchester City were on their knees from the beginning of this semi-final against Chelsea yet rose to the occasion yet again to keep their hopes of a domestic Double alive. Every push through the pain, every bit of lactic acid and every bit of defensive resolve proved worth it in the end as Bernardo Silva scored a late goal to book City's place in their second final in as many years.

Pep Guardiola had his head in his hands at full-time, in disbelief at just how his side had managed to win it. "I'm really tired now," were Kevin De Bruyne's first words on the pitch in his interview. But the coach and players were ultimately vindicated for pushing through the pain barrier and showing their intent to defend their trophy.

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The difference in cost of the starting XIs amounted to about £1m, whereas the two days of extra rest for Chelsea gave them a priceless advantage. As well as City having to deal with the emotional fallout of their Champions League fallout, it was a physically crushing 120 minutes that both De Bruyne and Manu Akanji had been unable to complete.

It's not that Guardiola doesn't listen to his medical team, but he does not want tiredness used as an excuse by any of his players. There were plenty of fans who would have made more changes from the Real Madrid game in order to concentrate on having the best XI as fit as possible for the Premier League match at Brighton on Thursday, yet that is not the Guardiola way. The lineup may even have been stronger for going out of the Champions League, knowing that there are fewer games left this season.

Either way, it was a statement of intent that De Bruyne, Akanji and Kyle Walker started again after their recent issues. City's Treble hopes may be over but their pursuit of a Double would not die wondering.

That said, the spirit was stronger than the minds and the legs. There were signs of tiredness from the off from the likes of De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, encouraging Cole Palmer and Nicolas Jackson to attack for Chelsea. It felt just that little bit too easy to expose City when they lost the all, and they lost it more than they normally would.

John Stones, normally a master of time and space, played Jackson onside on the half-hour mark but was relieved that Stefan Ortega and Walker played to the whistle because no flag came when the move fizzled out. Guardiola fretted on the sidelines, often reduced to watching on his knees as Chelsea surged though the City half.

Yet if the Treble winners were a second off their usual pace, their natural instincts still kicked in often enough. Julian Alvarez - in for the injured Erling Haaland - and De Bruyne played beautiful passes in the same move that Phil Foden started and nearly finished, rounding the keeper from a tight angle before being unable to pick out a teammate for a tap-in.

Unlike Wednesday's siege on the Real goal though, City's attacks here were the exception rather than the norm. Cole Palmer beat Rodri far too easily and forced Ortega into another save minutes after some more last-ditch defending from Nathan Ake as the Blues were put under the cosh.

Guardiola was delighted last year that City had finally broken their run of losing three FA Cup semi-finals played immediately after Champions League quarter-finals, yet how much of that came down to the quality of Riyad Mahrez and the fact they played Championship opposition in Sheffield United? The FA Cup holders weren't quite on the canvas but they were swaying in a first half that saw them record no shots on target for the first time in more than two months.

Stones was floored enough not to come back out for the second half, continuing a campaign where City just haven't see enough of him. The arrival of Ruben Dias didn't immediately bolster Guardiola's side though as they were grateful to both Ortega and Jackson that the Chelsea striker couldn't take two early chances inside 20 seconds of each other.

Grealish started to influence the game more, only to take a nasty knock in a collision and be forced off. That luck that is needed when you are up against it wasn't with City.

Team spirit was, though, however frayed engines looked to be. De Bruyne is usually happy to let his teammates know exactly what he thinks and seemed set to give Rodri both barrels after an errant pass in front of him, only to then check himself and applaud instead; City knew that they weren't going to improve their chances by bickering.

Grealish's absence allowed Jeremy Doku to come on and repeat what he did against Real, making an instant impact and troubling the defence. Djordje Petrovic saved well down to his right after Doku had wriggled clear in the box and lashed the ball inside the near post.

Having toiled and battled through 83 minutes and with a second extra time in four days looking likely, the moment arrived. De Bruyne strode onto the ball in the box and with one last burst of his lungs eked out the space to flash it across goal, where Petrovic could only divert it into the path of Silva and he kept his cool to strike gold for City.

Silva, the man who missed a penalty on Wednesday and was criticised externally for the nature of his kick. The man who was declared a hero by his manager for having the courage to take one in the first place. The man who has often sought a challenge away from City but runs himself into the ground every time he turns out in sky blue.

Silva covered more ground than any other player in the Champions League yet still found the energy to run over to the City fans after his goal, standing in front of them and beating his chest. This is what it means to be a champion, and this is what City over the line and into another final.

After beating their third Premier League team, City will contest the final against either United - in what would be a second Manchester derby showpiece in as many years - or Championship side Coventry City. Whoever they meet will know exactly how hard they will have to work and how good they will have to be to down this City side.