FA Cup player ratings as Raheem Sterling steals the show, if not a goal

Updated: 19/03/2023


Watford probably did not make the short trip to Wembley expecting an unlikely FA Cup final win against this prolific Manchester City side, but they probably didn’t expect to be handed such a kicking.

The Hornets enjoyed the first half more, finding some chances amid the City attack. Ederson was forced into a save after Gerard Deulofeu’s promising counter found Roberto Pereyra on a low cross. The Argentine should have done better.

Man City’s first goal came in unfortunate circumstances. Headers were won by tiny men in blue shirts in the Watford box, and the ball was knocked down to David Silva. The Spaniard volleyed home towards the corner with precision. Then, towards the end of the half, Bernardo Silva floated a ball towards the sprinting Gabriel Jesus. While Raheem Sterling claimed the goal, hammering it into the side netting on the line, it has since been given to the Brazilian.

Half-time at 2-0, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Then things descended.

City’s third came 15 minutes into the second half. Pereyra’s floating cross from a wide free-kick was cleared and a Sky Blues counter-attack began. Raheem Sterling broke away and found Kevin De Bruyne in the centre, gifting the Belgian substitute a tap-in goal. It signalled the end of the competition for the trophy, in truth.

When Jesus found the net but seven minutes later, it felt unneccesary. The fifth, by Sterling just after the 80th minute, was just cruel. The Hornets fans waved their flags with five minutes to play, the scoreline 5-0. The Yellows fans were showing their pride in their side to have made it to Wembley and given them the day out. Sterling then tapped in Gomes’ spill, to add further insult.

Here is how they rated on the day.

Manchester City

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates with teammate Raheem Sterling during the FA Cup final (Getty Images)
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates with teammate Raheem Sterling during the FA Cup final (Getty Images)

Ederson 7/10

Came out early to rush attackers’ shots, making a good save to deny Pereyra. Palmed one away awkwardly, but otherwise a solid clean sheet.

Kyle Walker 7/10

Pushed up high because, well, he could. Exploited Holebas’ poor positioning well.

Read more: Troy Deeney on Vincent Kompany: The last ‘proper centre half’ since Rio Ferdinand

Vincent Kompany 7/10

There was a shout for handball, but he makes every attempt to hide his arm. Dealt with Deeney well, but otherwise had little to do.

Aymeric Laporte 6/10

A little shakey in the air at times, but otherwise capable on a quiet afternoon.

Oleksandr Zinchenko 5/10

Some awkward passing moments, when he was leaving it a little short or pushing it a little wide. Defensively a little easy to pass.

Ilkay Gundogan 8/10

Did a lot of the unseen work, mopping up loose balls and recycling around, as well as breaking out of a midfield cage on a number of occasions.

David Silva of Manchester City celebrates after scoring against Watford in the FA Cup Final (Getty Images)
David Silva of Manchester City celebrates after scoring against Watford in the FA Cup Final (Getty Images)

Read more: Bernardo Silva’s tirelessness in the Manchester City midfield makes him Pep Guardiola’s perfect disciple

Bernardo Silva 9/10

Two top quality assists. One a brilliantly-placed cross to Jesus, the other a nimble run before he found Raheem Sterling.

David Silva 8/10

Took his goal very well. Passed excellently and was dilligent on the ball. Was shown a yellow card for a cynical trip after a slip.

Riyad Mahrez 7/10

Neat turns and cuts inside to produce threatening shots. Was denied by Gomes on more than one occasion but he was all over Jose Holebas. One poor shot, but otherwise a solid contribution.

Raheem Sterling 10/10

Totally devastating form. Two assists through hard work, one on the counterattack and one from an unlikely header to David Silva. Nearly a hat-trick in an FA Cup final to boot, although his first was later awarded to Gabriel Jesus, after it was ruled the ball had crossed the line before Sterling used it to attack the side netting. He was the runaway Man of the Match, but denied the award, bizarrely.

Gabriel Jesus 9/10

Demonstrated immense athleticism and deftness of touch on more than one occasion, but his goal was a highlight. Great effort to make it to Silva’s dipping diagonal ball and tap it in outstretched, which Sterling claimed by hammering it into the side netting. His second was excellently taken too.


Kevin De Bruyne 8/10

The substitute read the counterattack opportunity well and took the chance well. He then put through Gabriel Jesus excellently for Manchester City’s fourth. Changed the tempo of the match at a crucial time. Slightly bafflingly given Man of the Match, despite a strong performance.

Leroy Sane 6/10

Showed his pace and dribbling aptitude on the wing, but his passing was iffy at times.

John Stones 6/10

Got forward late in the match and nearly scored City’s seventh.


Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra of Watford in the FA Cup final (Getty Images)
Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra of Watford in the FA Cup final (Getty Images)

Heurelho Gomes 4/10

Such a mixed display. Some excellent reaction saves and some poor positioning which costed goals. One horror spill too. Ben Foster will be questioning the logic of playing your cup netminder in the final, as will some other Hornets.

Kiko Femenia 6/10

His pace and work rate was excellent to begin with, but when the flood gates opened they opened fully. Made an excellent block to prevent a late goal.

Adrian Mariappa 5/10

Made some excellent challenges but he lost pace with the City forwards after a while.

Craig Cathcart 6/10

Strong tackles and big interceptions were his mantra today, but there was simply too much to do. Positioning was awry for the first goal, playing Silva onside.

Jose Holebas 3/10

Had a terrible afternoon of it against Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker. Most do, to be fair to him, but not to this extent.

Etienne Capoue 6/10

A solid display in the midfield on a terrible day. Some good interceptions and robust play, but there was little he could do with those around him faltering.

Will Hughes 5/10

Tracked back with determination and spread some passes but didn’t grab the game by the scruff.

Abdoulaye Doucouré 5/10

Dawdled on the ball on a few occasions, band will feel some culpability for the first goal. A lukewarm showing in what should have been an audition for the summer transfer window.

Gerard Deulofeu 6/10

Dribbled with his usual mesmeric pace and guile on occasions. It was a shame he could not turn it into more.

Roberto Pereyra 4/10

Squandered Watford’s best chance in the first half and passed up a golden opportunity to shoot early in the second. Looked indecisive and struggled to get shots off at crucial moments.

Troy Deeney 5/10

Physical, and never backed down from an aerial challenge, but he needed to win more of them. He provided a few knock-downs, but there was just the final spark lacking.


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Andre Gray 5/10

No impact made up top, and he didn’t get on the ball. Needed to press harder in the last moments.

Isaac Success 6/10

Made more of an impact than the other subs, with some tenacity shown, but not by much.

Tom Cleverley 5/10

Put up little resistance to the onslaught of the Man City midfield.


This post first appeared here

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