Aussie’s FA Cup final dreams shattered
Socceroos No. 1 Mat Ryan has missed the chance to become just the sixth Australian to play in the FA Cup final as his Brighton side lost 1-0 to Manchester City in Saturday's semi-final at Wembley.
The keeper was on the verge of joining an illustrious Australian cohort of Joe Martson, Craig Johnston, Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mile Jedinak to have played in the 147-year-old showpiece.
But Gabriel Jesus's early headed goal was enough for quadruple-chasing Manchester City to beat Albion 1-0 on Saturday and book their place in the final.
Back at the scene of their League Cup triumph over Chelsea, Pep Guardiola's side were not at their rampant best against a Brighton side with their minds still on top-flight survival.
It took City three minutes to go ahead at a less-than-full Wembley, Jesus diving full length to connect with Kevin De Bruyne's superb whipped cross to beat Ryan on his right.
Whatever game-plan Brighton boss Chris Hughton had devised to stop a relentless City side was presumably now in tatters, but the expected onslaught did not materialise.
City had a let-off when Kyle Walker was perhaps fortunate not to get a red card in the first half following a clash with Alireza Jahanbakhsh and they never looked totally secure as Brighton caused problems.
Pressure almost paid off after the break when Shane Duffy headed into the danger area from a corner, while Glenn Murray looked a certain scorer as the ball dropped invitingly in front of goal, only for the ball to be hacked over the bar.
That prompted a response from City and Raheem Sterling brought a fine save out of Ryan with a curling effort from outside the box.
The England star also had an effort blocked by Lewis Dunk before forcing another fine save from Ryan in the closing moments.
There were not too many major alarms, however, as City claimed their 21st win from their last 23 matches in all competitions.
They will play the winners of Watford and Wolverhampton Wanderers who meet in the second semi-final on Sunday (1:00am Monday morning AEST).
City lost the Premier League top spot to Liverpool on Friday, although they are only two points adrift with a game in hand. They also face fellow Premier League side Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals.