Raheem Sterling scored the first FA Cup final hat-trick since 1953 as Manchester City rounded off an outstanding season by crushing Watford at Wembley to clinch a historic domestic treble.
Sterling was the star of the show as Pep Guardiola’s team became the first English men’s team to achieve the feat of winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup in the same season.
They reaffirmed their status as this season’s dominant force as Watford were utterly outclassed, City achieving the biggest FA Cup final win since Bury beat Derby 6-0 in 1903.
Watford’s best chance of overturning the odds came early on when City keeper Ederson saved at the feel of Roberto Pereyra and they were furious when referee Kevin Friend waved away penalty claims after Vincent Kompany blocked Abdoulaye Doucoure’s shot.
The contest was effectively over from the moment David Silva finished from close range after 26 minutes, Sterling doubling the advantage before half-time by turning in Gabriel Jesus’s goalbound shot.
Watford rallied briefly after the break but were always wide open to the counter-attack.
They were brutally punished by an imperious City side, as substitute Kevin de Bruyne scored from Gabriel Jesus’s pass just after the hour before the Brazilian raced clear for another goal shortly afterwards.
Sterling wrote his own name into the history with a treble by scoring twice in the final 10 minutes – turning in Bernardo Silva’s perfect cross before bundling in the final goal of a memorable display from Guardiola’s side.
It was City’s sixth FA Cup triumph and their first under Guardiola, who has now won six trophies since taking over at Etihad Stadium in 2016.
City’s win means Wolverhampton Wanderers, who finished seventh in the Premier League table, will play in the two-legged second qualifying round of the Europa League on 25 July and 1 August.
City claimed the coveted league and FA Cup double for the first time – the first team it has been achieved since Chelsea did it under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10.
This comprehensive triumph, however, was about even more than that.
The securing of three trophies underscores the scale of City’s achievement – and emphasises the hunger and desire which has driven them this season, notably to finish ahead of Liverpool in a relentless Premier League title race.
Their ability to move to another level when required was on show here at they resisted Watford’s early promise – and then brushed them aside.
They refused to ease up when Watford were down and out, pressing forward until the final whistle, with substitute John Stones only being denied by the bar in the final seconds as City almost became the first team in win an FA Cup final by seven goals.
The pedal was still pressed to the floor as the goals racked up.
And it was all achieved without leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero, restricted to a place on the bench alongside De Bruyne, Stones and Leroy Sane.
After securing the Premier League title at Brighton last weekend, Guardiola stated that he is addicted to winning. This was a performance of class and quality from a team that looks in shape to satisfy the Catalan’s craving for years to come.
This is a special team led by a special manager.