ENGLISH FA CUP

Kompany rejects 'salvation' talk

Manchester City captain says his side have had a good season by any measure, with Wembley showpiece being icing on the cake

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 5:04am
AFP

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Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has rejected suggestions that his side's entire season hangs on whether or not they can overcome Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final.

City defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the semi-finals to reach their second final in three years, two years on from the 2011 success against Stoke City that ended the club's 35-year trophy drought.

City failed to make it beyond Christmas in the Champions League and the League Cup, and with Manchester United surging to victory in the Premier League, it leaves the FA Cup as their only chance of silverware.

However, with his side also in a comfortable second place in the league, Kompany sees no reason to be downcast about their performances this season.

"It is not a question of salvaging the season. You never know how good your season will be until after the last game," he said.

"It is important for our fans that we bring trophies back to Manchester. If we achieve that this season, it is important we cherish it and be happy about it.

"You can always improve and we have another season to do that, so you shouldn't look backwards too much."

Goals either side of half-time from Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero appeared to have set City on course for a comfortable victory at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, only for Demba Ba's 66th-minute goal to leave them hanging on.

In a tense denouement, Aguero was fortunate to escape punishment for an appalling two-footed stamp on Chelsea centre-back David Luiz, but City manager Roberto Mancini played down the incident.

"I didn't see it. I need glasses," he joked. "Usually Sergio takes a lot of kicks from defenders. I don't know what he did. This can happen in football.

"The referee was there. There were six referees on the pitch - I think if Sergio does something wrong ... [he would have been punished]."

Mancini was rewarded for keeping faith with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, who has deputised for first-choice goalkeeper Joe Hart in the competition.

The Romanian produced several important saves, notably thwarting Juan Mata and Ba at 2-1, and Mancini suggested that he would keep his place for the final on May 11.

"Costel did very well," Mancini said.

"He is a good keeper and he deserves this situation because he has been here for two years and has done very well behind Joe Hart. It is a good situation for Joe too. We have four weeks to the final, but I think it will be Pantilimon."

City will enter the final as strong favourites against a Wigan side who currently trail them by 34 points in the Premier League and are embroiled in a battle to avoid relegation.

However, Wigan produced a superb performance to beat Everton 3-0 in the quarter-finals before sweeping past Millwall 2-0 on Saturday, and Kompany anticipates an evenly balanced game.

"The stadium and pitch will suit Wigan, but it will suit us as well. I expect it to be a good game because they know how to play football and we do as well," he said.

"For our fans it's harder when it is open, but it will be a great game for the neutral."

City will have an early opportunity to size up their final opponents as they face Wigan in the league on Wednesday.

"For us it's important to beat Wigan, because we need to have more points for the second position," said Mancini. "It's important to win."