Brighton 0 United 0 (6-7 on pens)

Sunday 23 April 2023 18:34

Manchester United reached the final of the FA Cup, after Victor Lindelof’s cool spot-kick helped defeat Brighton & Hove Albion 7-6 on penalties, following a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes.

The Sweden centre-half converted his spot-kick perfectly after Brighton winger Solly March missed his penalty and it sets up a first-ever Manchester derby FA Cup final, when the Reds take on City on 3 June.

United had several opportunities to break the deadlock during the tie, the best falling to Bruno Fernandes in the first half of normal time and Marcus Rashford, whose extra-time effort was superbly kept out by Robert Sanchez.

The Seagulls also had plenty of chances to open the scoring during the 120 minutes of play. Arguably the best of which came to substitute Deniz Undav, who managed to get through on goal with David De Gea, before his touch let him down, allowing Diogo Dalot to make a crucial tackle.

Bruno Fernandes went close just before the end of the first half.


Marcus Rashford tried to make his intentions known in the early stages with a dangerous run down the left wing, but his pass to Bruno Fernandes did not reach its target and was cleared away by the Seagulls' defence. However, Brighton carved out the first opportunity of the game when Antony brought Kaoru Mitoma down on the edge of the area, conceding a dangerous free-kick. Up stepped World Cup-winner Alexis Mac Allister, who curled the ball around the United wall, but De Gea was able to reach out and palm the ball behind for a corner.

The South Coast side pushed again as Pascal Gross was able to pick out Julio Enciso with a low and fast pass, but the Paraguayan winger’s strike sailed wide of De Gea’s far post.

United quickly countered with a bursting run from Antony down the right-hand side and his pass fed Christian Eriksen in the centre of the pitch. The Dane only needed a second to find the returning Fernandes, who tried to bend the ball around Robert Sanchez, but the Spaniard was able to make the save.

Just after the half hour mark, Mitoma glided down the left channel and attempted to cut inside to take a shot, but was prevented by Aaron-Wan Bissaka diving in with well-timed tackle. The ball rolled to Enciso, who tried to repeat his long-range goal against Chelsea the week before, but his effort curled away from De Gea’s goal.

In the dying moments of the half, the Reds had three good chances to open the scoring. The Brazilian duo of Antony and Casemiro worked together to send the United skipper Fernandes through, but our Portuguese magnifico's low shot just rolled past the post from a tight angle, with Anthony Martial unhappy not to be picked out in the middle. And, in stoppage time, Martial chipped over from a promising position before Eriksen’s beautiful pass managed to reach Rashford on the left wing. The England international sent a low cross back to Eriksen to hit the ball first time, only to scuff the shot and be denied by Sanchez's boot.


United began the second half using speed and directness to try to break through the Brighton defence. Antony managed to skip away from Lewis Dunk and make headway into the penalty area. Using his right foot, the Brazilian tried to pick out fellow forward Martial, but the pass was read by the Seagulls defence and cleared.

Brighton gained some control of the game, forcing Erik ten Hag’s men to defend several attacks. Their best chance came when Dunk’s header was blocked by Casemiro. The clearance came to Mitoma and, when his attempt was also charged down, Enciso fired a powerful shot that forced De Gea to make a world-class save.

The Reds finally gained an opportunity to come forward when Fernandes intercepted and won the ball back from left-back Pervis Estupinan, allowing Antony to pounce. The winger managed to find his way into the Brighton penalty area before trying one of his signature left-footed shots which was comfortably saved by Sanchez.

Rashford earned a free-kick on the edge of the area and he and Fernandes stood over the set-piece, but it was the United captain who stepped up to fire into the wall, blasting the rebound over the top when it came back to him.

In the late moments of the game, the Seagulls kept asking questions of the Reds' backline. Solly March received the ball on the right wing and cut inside, beating the defence to curl a shot at De Gea which he got down low to save. The Spaniard had to quickly recover and scramble to grab the ball to prevent Pascal Gross from getting the follow up.

Substitute Jadon Sancho attempted to snatch a late winner for the Reds. Linking up with Dalot and Rashford, Sancho's shot took as slight direction and landed off target as we went into 30 additional minutes.


The Seagulls went back on the front foot, with Mac Allister attempting to beat De Gea from long range but his shot rose over the bar. Then Moises Caicedo sent substitute striker Deniz Undaz in, but the German forward took a poor touch which allowed Diogo Dalot to recover and make a crucial challenge to keep the score level.

United attempted to come forward with quick burst down the left flank, with Dalot and Sancho working together before Sancho lifted the ball into the area for fellow substitute Marcel Sabitzer to get a glancing header that crept wide of Sanchez’s far post.

With a minute to go at the end of the first period, Rashford came fingertips away from grabbing the opener. Working with Fred and Sancho, the trio played some wonderful passes before the Reds' top goalscorer this season tried to smash the ball into the far corner but Sanchez made the best save of the game, diving to his left and forcing the deflected drive past the post.

Just like they began the first period of extra time, Brighton would be the first to have an attempt at goal in the second period. Solly March was able to outmuscle Fred from taking the ball, before the Seagulls winger struck the ball with his favoured left foot straight into the gloves of De Gea.

Halfway into the second period, Casemiro delivered a picture-perfect pass into the path of Rashford. The in-form forward managed to take the ball under control beautifully and got the better of Joel Veltman, and then attempted to try to blast a shot towards the far corner, but failed to hit the target. So it went to penalties.

Reds into first Manchester derby final


United will play City for the right to lift the Emirates FA Cup next month.


With United's recent shootout record, and Brighton winning the right to kick in front of their fans, the odds were stacked against the Reds. Mac Allister sent De Gea the wrong way before Casemiro, Gross and Dalot all kept their nerve. Undav netted but Sancho, who missed a penalty against Italy in the European Championship final at Wembley in a shootout, hauled us level again with a flawless technique.

Pervis Estupinan and Marcus Rashford found the net, Lewis Dunk converted and so did Marcel Sabitzer, although Sanchez got a touch to the Austrian's effort.

So we went into sudden death, Adam Webster beat De Gea and Wout Weghorst was just as relaxed with a similar spot-kick. The break came when March blasted over the bar so it came down to Lindelof. The ice-cool defender only needed a short run to fire past Sanchez and sent United back to Wembley in five weeks’ time to take on Manchester City in the final.

13 semi-final talking points


Read our Wembley reporter's thoughts, after an enthralling and dramatic afternoon in the capital.


United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka (Malacia, 101), Lindelof, Shaw, Dalot, Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred, 61), Antony (Sabitzer, 90) Fernandes (c) (Weghorst, 101), Rashford, Martial (Sancho, 84).

Subs not used: Butland, Williams, Elanga, Pellistri.

Booked: Casemiro, Shaw, Lindelof.

Brighton: Sanchez, Gross, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan, Caicedo, March, Mac Allister, Mitoma, Enciso (Veltman, 66), Welbeck (Undav, 74).

Subs: Steele, Colwill, Ayari, Gilmour, van Hecke, Buonanotte, Offiah.

Booked: Mitoma.