For Championship side Sheffield United, the key to success against Man City was likely keeping Erling Haaland quiet.
But the Blades defence was almost caught napping by the Norwegian inside the opening half-hour, when he rifled an absolute thunderbolt home from all of 25 yards, only for referee Stuart Attwell to rule it out for an infringement in the build-up.
Considering City were 2-0 up by half-time against Championship leaders Burnley in the last round, reaching the break on level terms was set to be a small win in itself for Sheffield United.
Sheffield United continued to be the masters of their own downfall shortly after the break too, when their defence parted like the red sea to allow Mahrez to saunter through and double his tally for the day.
The Algerian wasn’t finished there though, and after again being afforded the freedom of Wembley by the Sheffield United defence, he stroked home his third to become the first player to score an FA Cup semi-final hat-trick since 1958.
In truth, Sheffield United were practically beaten the moment that earlier penalty flew in, with absolutely nothing to suggest that City would get anything other than a 13th victory from 24 prior visits to the new Wembley Stadium.
Subsequently, City boss Pep Guardiola was able to withdraw most of his big-hitters before Wednesday’s crunch Premier League title clash against Arsenal, which could see them close the gap behind the Gunners to two points, and inch closer towards finally emulating the illustrious treble their neighbours Manchester United achieved 24 years ago.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)