United 3 Fulham 1
Manchester United reached the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup, defeating Fulham 3-1 at Old Trafford, after the visitors had two players sent off in a dramatic second half.
A Bruno Fernandes brace and Marcel Sabitzer’s close-range effort completed the comeback after Alexander Mitrovic’s opener to send Erik ten Hag’s side to Wembley for the second time this season, where we'll take on Brighton and Hove Albion.
The recovery occurred after Willian was adjudged to have handballed Jadon Sancho’s shot on the line. The referee Chris Kavanagh and VAR immediately checked the incident and the official pointed to the spot and reached into his pocket to send the Brazilian off.
Mitrovic then appeared to push the referee, which resulted in the Serbian also receiving his marching orders, while manager Marco Silva was also ejected in a remarkable few minutes in M16.
The Reds will travel to the capital to face the Seagulls on 22 or 23 April, with Manchester City and Sheffield United playing in the other semi-final.
FIRST HALF: NO WAY THROUGH FOR EITHER SIDE
United started the game on the back foot, with the visitors having several chances to take the lead.
Former Reds midfielder Andreas Pereira, centre-back Issa Diop and former Chelsea winger Willian all tested David De Gea’s goal.
The Reds’ first major attempt came when Marcus Rashford made a darting run down the left-hand side with pace and determination to take on the Fulham defence. His pass picked out Wout Weghorst, who took the ball on to his left foot and fired a low shot straight into Leno’s gloves.
Moments later, the duo would connect again, when Rashford received the ball from Aaron Wan-Bissaka. With two Fulham players in front of him, United’s no.10 managed to whip a wonderful cross into the path of Weghorst, but the Dutch centre-forward was blocked from getting on the end of the pass by United States international Tim Ream.
At the other end, Antonee Robinson’s high cross managed to find the head of Mitrovic, but the Serbian was unable to guide his attempt on target.
United then managed to break away, with Weghorst and Sabitzer combining to put Rashford one-on-one with Leno, but the German came out quickly to smother Marcus’s effort.
Sabitzer’s contributions would not end there, the Austrian first firing a long-range shot which forced Leno to make a double-handed save. He then made an overlapping run, from a good pass by Sancho. His first-time pass across the area was too fast for Rashford to create an opportunity and was collected by the Fulham defence.
Just before the half-time whistle blew, United had a big opportunity to steal the lead.
Sancho was able to get the best of Robinson on the right wing and his pass into Scott McTominay forced the Scotland international to try a first-time shot, which was blocked by the oncoming defender.
SECOND HALF: A REMARKABLE TURNAROUND
Fulham started the second half with an intensity that forced De Gea into action early.
Palhinha’s tackle just outside of the box played the ball into the path of Willian. The Brazilian winger managed to slide the ball to Antonee Robinson on the overlap and the left-back's effort was tipped over the bar by the Spaniard.
Willian would not be done there. After picking the ball up on the edge of the United penalty area, the former Chelsea and Arsenal winger tried to bend the ball into the far corner of the goal, forcing De Gea to save once more.
But after multiple attempts from the visitors, the deadlock was finally broken. Pereira’s corner was flicked on by Diop and Mitrovic arrived at the back post to poke the ball past De Gea and gave Marco Silva’s side the lead.
United attempted to respond quickly. Weghorst’s header allowed Rashford to break through on the left wing. Looking up, Rashford’s pass found Fernandes on the edge of area, who tried a shot from distance which sailed wide of Leno’s far post.
Mitrovic almost doubled the lead, but De Gea was on hand again with arguably his best stop of the game. Pereira with another deadly free-kick managed to find the leaping centre-forward and his header forced De Gea to claw the ball away to keep the Reds in it.
With 20 minutes left, the major talking point of the match arrived. Substitute Antony burst through on the right-hand side and slid the ball to Sancho, whose shot was blocked on the line by the arm of Willian. After the referee and VAR completed the check, a penalty was given and the red card shown to Willian.
Mitrovic was also dismissed, as was Silva for dissent, leaving the visitors down to nine men and without their manager.
Despite all the drama, Fernandes remained calm. He stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball past Leno to bring United level.
And from there, the floodgates would open. Luke Shaw’s run down the left wing resulted in the full-back firing in a low cross into the six-yard area and Sabitzer managed to flick the ball past Leno with a beautiful piece of skill to grab his first goal for the club.
After a flurry of late Fulham subs, Fernandes put the game to bed. Fred, fresh off the bench himself, managed to find our no.8 with a well-weighted pass and the Portuguese midfielder smashed the ball into the far corner to make it 3-1.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw; McTominay (Antony 58), Sabitzer; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford (Fred 83); Weghorst.
Subs not used: Butland, Lindelof, Malacia, Dalot, Mainoo, Pellistri, Elanga.
Goals: Fernandes (pen) 75, 90+6, Sabitzer 77.
Fulham: Leno; Tete (Soares 89), Diop, Ream, Robinson; Palhinha, Reed (Solomon 89); Decordova-Reid (James 89), Pereira (Cairney 89), Willian; Mitrovic.
Subs not used: Rodak, Adarabioyo, Lukic, Wilson, Vinicius.
Goal: Mitrovic 50.
Booked: Pereira, Robinson.
Sent off: Willian, Mitrovic.
SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION
Into the semifinals 💪🏾 Thanks God 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/ea5jzYbo0H— Fred Rodrigues (@Fred08oficial) March 19, 2023
United team spirit 💪 Another trip to Wembley 🏟️ pic.twitter.com/TME0R6W4f9— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) March 19, 2023
DAVID DE GEA
Onto Wembley we go 🔴 pic.twitter.com/pIKwvhvhTZ— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) March 19, 2023
It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done. The cup run continues 💪🏾⚽️ pic.twitter.com/WQzTU0eNpg— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) March 19, 2023