Manchester United beat Brighton and Hove Albion to reach the Emirates FA Cup final where they will face Manchester City at Wembley. Neither side was able to take advantage of their chances throughout the match entering extra time with the deadlock unable to be broken. The match went to penalties with United winning 7-6 and Victor Lindelof being the hero of the match, scoring his spot kick after Solly March missed his.
United got off to a good start at Wembley United started a counter attack in the third minute with Marcus Rashford driving to the edge of the box. He tried to slip a pass into Antony but Brighton were able to clear the danger. Rashford then went down after some pressure from Moises Caicedo, but it wasn’t anything bad. Two minutes later, Solly March swung a cross across the United box but none of his teammates were there to do anything about it.
David De Gea produced a fine save in the seventh minute of the match after an Alexis Mac Allister shot on goal. There was a Brighton appeal for a penalty after a handball from Diogo Dalot – but nothing was given. In the 12th minute, Julio Enciso had a shot on goal, shooting wide of the target. Two minutes later, Bruno Fernandes had a shot on goal with Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sánchez parrying his effort. Kaoru Mitoma then shot over the United crossbar.
Fernandes seemed to be injured in the 23rd minute of the match but was soon back up on his feet. Rashford then had a spell on the deck with his own problem – but he was able to continue too. Nine minutes later, Enciso shot wide of the target after some good play by Brighton. Casemiro was booked in the 36th minute of the match after a foul on Mac Allister. He would need to keep his head for the remainder of the match. United needed him on the pitch.
Fernandes was down holding his face ion the 39th minute of the match with some jeering from the Brighton supporters inside Wembley. Fernandes then had a shot on goal in the 44th minute of the match with United seeking to open the scoring late in the first half. He shot across the goalkeeper but dragged his effort. There were a few minutes added on at the end of the first half and Christian Eriksen had an effort on goal but the Brighton goalkeeper kicked it away.
It was 0-0 at the end of the first half will everything to play for in the second half. Both teams would have been confident any one break of getting the victory in this match. United had chances, so did Brighton. It was a positive match not like the one between the two sides at the very start of the season. This very much looked like it could be a match which goes to extra time – maybe penalties. Ten Hag would surely have something to say to his players in the dressing room.
There were no substitutions made at the start of the second half for either side. In the 47th minute, Antony stormed up the right flank into the Brighton area and pulling the ball across. However, Anthony Martial was not there to tap in the effort. Luke Shaw was booked in the 53rd minute of the match after a challenge on Caicedo. Three minutes later, De Gea made another good save to deny Enciso. In the 58th minute, Danny Welbeck headed over the United crossbar.
On the hour, Brighton looked dangerous but could not get anything from their press. United then started an attack, but again did not get anything from it. In the 62nd minute, Ten Hag made his first substitution with Fred replacing Christian Eriksen. A minute later, Sanchez made a save from an Antony shot – which he should have scored from. Fernandes then blazed over the crossbar in the 66th minute. Joel Veltman replaced Julio Enciso for Brighton in the 67th minute.
Welbeck had another chance on goal in the 73rd minute but after some good footwork, Victor Lindelof came across quickly to get his foot in. Welbeck connected with the Swedish defender and was down needing treatment. In the 75th minute, Deniz Undav replaced Danny Welbeck after he suffered an injury. In the 82nd minute, De Gea produced another fine save to deny Brighton with March getting the shot on goal. Brighton were in with a good chance there.
Ten Hag made his second substitution in the 85th minute with Jadon Sancho replacing Anthony Martial, who failed to live up to the expectations once again this season – shock – horror. In the 87th minute of the match, Sancho curled his effort over the Brighton crossbar. It was a good chance for United to get a goal – but it came to nothing. Brighton then won a free-kick in the 88th minute, them having a good chance to try and win the match. It never happened for them.
Kaoru Mitoma was the first Brighton player to be booked, getting a yellow card in the second minute of added time. At full time it was still 0-0 with extra time now coming for both teams. United made another substitution with Marcel Sabitzer replacing Antony in the 91st minute of the match. Brighton had a good chance through Deniz Undav in the 94th minute, but Dalot made the clearance to keep United in the match. Lindelof was booked in the 97th minute.
In the same minute, Caicedo blasted wide of the target for Brighton. This seemed to be a game of luck – neither team having it to get a goal. Sabitzer then had a chance to get something for United in the 98th minute, but he glanced his effort over the crossbar. In the 101st minute, Ten Hag made a double substitution with Tyrell Malacia and Wout Weghorst replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno Fernandes. United would need to make this count or possible face penalties.
Fred had a chance in the 102nd minute, flashing the crossbar with his effort. At the end of their first half of extra time, United had a great chance with Sanchez making to save to deny Rashford after Sancho set him up with the shot at the edge of the box. De Gea made another save at the start of the second half of extra time from a March strike on goal. In the 110th minute, Rashford seemed to go down after a challenge by Veltman – nothing given.
Rashford then shot wide of the target in the 112th minute, which was a shame to see.United could have won it there. The next minute Mitoma was through and seemingly fouled De Gea, who was in a bit of pain. Nothing given against the Brighton player. United had a good chance from a set-piece in the 116th minute but Weghorst booted the effort into the crowd. The match ended 0-0 at the end of extra time with it going to penalties.
United won the penalty shootout 7-6 with Casemiro, Dalot, Sancho, Rashford, Sabitzer, Weghorst and Lindelof all scoring – with the Swede getting the winner. Brighton’s Mac Allister, Gross, Undav, Estupinan, Dunk and Webster all scoring from their spot kicks. However, it was March that missed, giving United that chance to set the date for their 21st FA Cup final at the end of the season – facing Manchester City, who are now on a treble, at Wembley.
David De Gea: The United goalkeeper parried away an effort from Alexis Mac Allister, from a free-kick. Also making saved to debt both Julio Enciso and Solly March. He did, however, struggle in the penalty shoot out as he has done in the past. That said, it was United that got the better of this one. ★★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: The right-back performed a great sliding tackle on Kaoru Mitoma but struggled in the attacking third in the first half. He did improve after the break though, which was good to see. He performed a great dribble of the ball and will happily take on Diogo Dalot for the right-back position. Replaced by Malacia. ★★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: The Swede looked more comfortable on the right side of the central defence and seemed to get much stronger as the game went on. What a performance it was for the Swede. He did well with Luke Shaw, which could be a partnership as the season progresses. He scored the winning penalty for United. ★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: Normally plays in the left-back role but has stepped into a central defensive role for United. He did well against Brighton and will probably play in this position a few more times this season. Although the left flank was more of a target, it will be something to strengthen as the weeks continue. He was a comfort for United in the position. ★★★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: The best thing for the Portuguese fullback was that Karol Mitoma was not pitted against him as that could have been a problem. Despite the left being a target area for Brighton, he did well. He got involved in a positive intervention to deny Deniz Undav. He is a blessing for United this season. ★★★★★★
Casemiro: The Brazilian found himself booked for an overzealous tackle which did not rattle him or cost United. Alexis Mac Allister was a problem for United’s midfield and so was Moises Caicedo. United and Brighton nullified each other for two hours of football. This was a positive result for United, despite the inability to score goals. ★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: The Danish international set up a good chance for Bruno Fernandes and tried for a goal himself in the first half. So soon after his return from an ankle injury, he got a bit leggy in the second half and needed to come off to save him for another day. He was replaced by Fred. ★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian winger was occasionally lively on the ball but his work off it was better. He had a few shots on goal with one forcing a save from Robert Sanchez. He is a positive influence for United and tries to do a lot for United. For this being his first season at the club – the step up to the Premier League is a positive one. Replaced by Sabitzer. ★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: The Portuguese midfielder was one of the best players involved in this match. He was pushing a lot in the first half and had many other attacks. The decisions were not always right but that happens in football. He captained the team well and did his best, which is all anyone could ask for. Replaced by Weghorst. ★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: There was little impact from the England forward in the first half until he set up a chance for Eriksen in added time. It was not great for him in the second half either with earning a free kick the best effort from him. However, in extra time, Sanchez denied a superb effort from him which could have won it. ★★★★★★
Anthony Martial: The Frenchman was a passenger in this match. His performances lately have not been good enough for him to be starting. But United had just Wout Weghorst to replace him and that had not worked all that well either. There needs to come a time when Martial realises that he’s surplus at United. Replaced by Sancho. ★★★
Fred: Replaced Eriksen 62′. Provided energy for United. The Brazilian is a good player from the bench but one would expect to see more of him in the coming weeks to keep other players fresh. A presence in defence and attack. ★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Replaced Martial 85′. He got stuck in almost instantly with a shot that curled wide. Put in a good effort to provide Sabitzer with the ball – one of the best pieces of attacking for United. ★★★★★★
Marcel Sabitzer: Replaced Antony 91′. Added some creativity for United. Had a header go wide of the target but scored his penalty in the shootout. I would still sign him this summer as he has what it takes to succeed at United. ★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: Replaced Fernandes 101′. Had a very committed cameo for United. Many would have had a bad feeling when the Dutchman came on. He did well in the final 19 minutes of extra time and took his penalty well. ★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: Replaced Wan-Bissaka 101′. The Dutch fullback was loose with the ball at times and has a bit of work to do before he starts against teams that will target his side of the pitch. It was good to see his determination. ★★★★★
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Malacia 101′), Lindelof, Shaw, Dalot; Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 62′); Antony (Sabitzer 91′), Fernandes (Weghorst 101′), Rashford; Martial (Sancho 85′)
Substitutes Not Used: Butland; Williams; Pellistri; Elanga
Bookings: Kaoru Mitoma 90+2′; Casemiro 36′, Luke Shaw 53′, Victor Lindelof 97′
Written by John Walker