Report: Manchester United into the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup after Lukaku and Matic sink Brighton


Manchester United beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford in the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday evening. Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring in the 37th minute of the match, assisted by Nemanja Matic. Brighton were no pushover during the match. Matic secured the victory in the 83rd minute, heading from close range to beat Tim Krul.

Jose Mourinho made five changes from the team which crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening with Sergio Romero, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial all starting in place of David De Gea, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez.

United started the march shakily with Brighton not afraid to attack. United broke forward with Anthony Martial seeking a shot on goal, which was deflected and out for a corner, which came to nothing for United with the ball finding its way to Eric Bailly, who misplaced a pass with Brighton regaining possession once again.

By the tenth minute of the match, United had started to play well, literally camping in the final third. There was another attempt on goal after Antonio Valencia drilled a cross to Romelu Lukaku from the right flank, the Belgian unable to get his shot on target or threaten Tim Krul. Jesse Lingard had a long-range shot in the 14th minute of the match, which was off target.

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United won a corner in the 20th minute of the match after Davy Propper made a defensive error, putting the ball out of play when he attempted to pass back to Krul. Nothing came of the corner for United, although they were still in the final third of the pitch trying to create something. Martial had a chance to shoot, but fluffed his lines. Brighton had a chance at the other end but were offside.

United found themselves under pressure in the 25th minute with Brighton on the attack. A last-ditch block from Bailly saved United’s blushes with United’s defence giving Brighton plenty of time on the ball, enough to create something which could have changed the game. United had a chance to take something from the game, Martial’s shot not strong enough, then deflected with Krul collecting.

In the 30th minute of the match, United had a great chance with Martial and Juan Mata combining, the Spaniard having the last touch with Brighton putting the ball out for a corner. From the corner, Chris Smalling tried to sneak a shot in by the near post, seemingly missing the outside of the post with Brighton getting a goal kick.

United started to build something around the 35th minute of the match, putting pressure on the visitors which was gaining them ground and seeing their confidence grow, slightly. Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring, his 25th goal of the season, in the 37th minute of the match. Luke Shaw started the attack, passing to Nemanja Matic, who assisted the Belgian striker.

The was just a minute of stoppage time added at the end of the first half. United were leading the match 1-0 but Brighton were seeking a way back into the game, pressuring United at every opportunity. It was probably not the best display from United, but as they grow into the game, it could all be different. The job was far from done, but United’s foot was firmly in the door at the break.

At the start of the second half, Mourinho made his first substitution with Luke Shaw being replaced by Ashley Young. United won a corner in the 48th minute of the match but Brighton were then able to clear the danger, putting the ball out for a throw-in. United, still in the final third, were attacking the Stretford End in the second half.

United won a throw-in deep in Brighton’s half after Lukaku and Martial attempted to get through on the left flank but Brighton made the clearance to deny United from a credible attacking opportunity. Brighton had a chance in the 51st minute of the match through Pascal Groß, the shot just being wide of the target.

Brighton had another shot, this time forcing a save from Romero. The Argentinian did not have to do much to stop the shot though. United were immediately on the attack after the shot, pressing Brighton, using the width but Young lost the ball in the box before Brighton cleared their lines with United regaining possession once again.

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In the 57th minute of the match, Brighton broke forward and Jurgen Locadia had a credible shot on target, Romero making the save to deny the equaliser. United broke forward through Martial but Lingard was too far forward to create something. Brighton then went in the other direction on the ball, placed a corner into the box with Romero catching the ball and keeping possession to break again.

Brighton looked like a goal is not beyond them the way they were breaking United down. In the 65th minute of the match, Valencia had to make a clearance, out of position to stop the side from breaking through and getting a shot on goal. Locadia had a headed attempt in the 67th minute, which was off target but could well have been the equaliser. United need to take charge of this fixture now.

Brighton made their first change in the 68th minute with Solly March being replaced by Jose Izquierdo. Near enough straight away, Izquierdo was able to threaten for the visitors, United regaining possession and clearing the danger. Chris Smalling made a great interception moments later to deny Brighton again in quick succession.

Lukaku broke forward for United in the 72nd minute of the match, putting the ball into the box from the left flank. Brighton made the clearance to deny United from a goalscoring opportunity. In the 74th minute of the match, Mourinho made his second substitution of the game with Juan Mata being replaced by Marcus Rashford. Brighton were readying their second substitution.

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In the 76th minute of the match, Glenn Murray replaced Leonardo Ulloa. The tempo had started to slow heading into the last ten minutes of the match. United doubled their lead in the 84th minute of the match through Matic, who has been the main man during the game. A goal and an assist for the Serbian.

Jose Mourinho has seemingly delivered his third semi-final appearance for United in his two seasons in charge. Young seemed to be carrying an injury in the latter stages of the match, receiving treatment on the pitch, him seemingly alright to continue for the remaining few minutes of the match.

Mourinho made his final substitution in the 89th minute of the match with Lingard being replaced by Marouane Fellaini. Both Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez had sat out the entire match with many of the media shocked to see both dropped from the team when they have been debating it all week and suggesting Mourinho must drop the pair.

There were three minutes of added time to come at the end of the match. It was still not over yet for United but Brighton had tailed off slightly in their attempts to get back into the match. Romero made another fine save to deny Brighton in the final minute of stoppage time, seemingly keeping his clean sheet, not conceding a goal in the Emirates FA Cup this season.

Key Moments:

37′ – Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for Manchester United after Luke Shaw broke forward at pace, saw no way through into the box, passing to Nemanja Matic. The Serbian lofted a cross into the box for Lukaku, who beat Tim Krul.

83′ – Nemanja Matic doubled the lead for Manchester United after Ashley Young put a decent cross into the box, the Serbian headed past Tim Krul to secure the lead for his club and see them into the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup.

Man of the Match: Nemanja Matic

The Serbian midfielder was the Man of the Match for me against Brighton and Hove Albion for the way he got involved in the match. Seemingly happy to see Scott McTominay in the middle of the pitch with him, after playing the last five matches before the defeat to Sevilla in midweek. Matic assisted Lukaku for the opening goal of the game, scoring himself in the 83rd minute.

Match Statistics:

Goals: Romelu Lukaku 37′, Nemanja Matic 83′

Assists: Nemanja Matic 37′, Ashley Young 83′

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw (Young 46′); Matic, McTominay; Mata (Rashford 74′), Lingard (Fellaini 89′), Martial; Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Lindelof; Pogba; Sanchez

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