Report: Coventry 3 United 3 (2-4 on pens)

Sunday 21 April 2024 18:57

Manchester United needed penalties to progress to a second successive Emirates FA Cup final after a dramatic semi-final clash with Coventry City at Wembley Stadium.

The scoreline of an intense contest read 3-3 at the end of normal time, after our Championship opponents came from three goals down to force an additional 30 minutes at the national stadium.

Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had scored for the Reds before the Sky Blues struck three times in the closing stages, through Ellis Simms, Callum O'Hare and a stoppage-time penalty from Haji Wright.

Our opponents thought they had won it late in extra-time, after Victor Torp found the net from close range, but the effort was ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee for an offside in the build-up, taking the encounter to a penalty shootout which United won 4-2, to set up an FA Cup final date with Manchester City in May.

United reach the FA Cup final


The showpiece event is set to be an all-Manchester showdown for the second successive season.


United started on top in the Wembley sun, and the afternoon's first big chance fell to Alejandro Garnacho. Andre Onana's long pass forward was knocked down by Fernandes and into the path of the Argentina international, who could not quite establish a meaningful contact on his one-on-one attempt, with the ball drifting wide. 

The Reds' early pressure did pay dividends just before the midway point in the first half. Attacking the Coventry end of supporters, Garnacho found overlapping right-back Diogo Dalot - making his 150th appearance for the club -  whose first-time cross into the penalty area was converted into an empty net from inside the six-yard area by McTominay.

Going into the game, Coventry had scored more FA Cup goals from the third-round onwards than any other club in this season's competition, so despite our Championship opponents not registering a shot in the opening 30 minutes, it was always likely that they were eventually going to find their feet at the national stadium.

A Jake Bidwell free-kick just after the half-hour mark, blocked by the wall, was the Sky Blues' first effort at goal and came just before a vital last-ditch intervention from Dalot which prevented Simms, Coventry's top scorer in this season's competition, from tapping in an equaliser.

Having produced a vital defensive intervention at one end, Dalot's next burst forward saw him found in space by Fernandes, before he produced a composed cutback for Marcus Rashford, whose powerful first-time effort was parried onto the crossbar and over by Sky Blues goalkeeper Bradley Collins. 

From the resulting corner, the Reds doubled our advantage. Fernandes's perfectly flighted ball in from the right was met, and guided back across the goal and into the net, by Maguire to make it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time.

Harry's header was a welcome moment just before the half-time whistle.


Erik ten Hag's men reasserted control immediately after the break and after Fernandes had gone close with a curler, the skipper did find the net to make it 3-0 on 58 minutes. The Portuguese midfielder took over possession from Rashford in the box and saw his low strike deflect in off Bobby Thomas to increase our advantage to three.

Despite the scoreline now looking comfortable, Mark Robins's spirited Coventry side were not for fading away as proceedings ticked into the final 20 minutes. After O'Hare stooped to head a cross from the right just over, the next delivery from that flank, by Fabio Tavares, was volleyed just inside the near post by Simms to provide the Sky Blues with a lifeline.

It was one which they would grasp with both hands, as the momentum swung in the Championship side's favour. Spurred on by their now-buoyed travelling contingent inside Wembley, O'Hare reduced the deficit further less than 10 minutes later, when his long-range effort looped up off Aaron Wan-Bissaka and into the net.

A venomous volley at goal from Torp, which was parried away by Onana, looked like it may be the Midlanders' last shot at a late equaliser, but there was further drama inside eight added minutes. Luis Binks's close-range effort in the 93rd minute was adjudged to have struck the arm of Wan-Bissaka, with Coventry awarded a last-gasp penalty. After a check with the Video Assistant Referee, Robert Jones's decision was confirmed, before Wright stepped up to send Onana the wrong way and a frantic game into extra-time.

Coventry's fans were in dreamland after their side came back from three goals down.


The break seemed to allow the Reds the opportunity to regain some command, as it was United who had the most meaningful opportunities in the first half of the additional 30 minutes. Fernandes went agonisingly close to striking Ten Hag's team back in front as he hit the crossbar, while substitute Omari Forson watched a low shot of his own brush the side-netting before the interval.

Once the teams swapped sides, it was Coventry who took the momentum back and it was their turn to strike the woodwork in the 116th minute, when Simms blasted onto the bar from close proximity, only moments after Wright had pulled a low shot just wide of the goal. 

The game looked to be heading for penalties as one minute of stoppage time was added on, but again there were more theatrics to unfold. Torp converted a low cross from the left to send the Coventry fans into raptures, as they appeared to have completed a famous turnaround, but the goal was ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR check, to our relief. A shootout it was to be after all. 


Taken in front of the United fans, the Reds were up first but Casemiro was denied the chance to edge us ahead when Collins kept out his opening penalty. Wright instead made it 1-0 to Coventry before Dalot got us on the board.

Torp and Christian Eriksen followed suit for the respective sides before Onana provided the save we needed, keeping out O'Hare's effort, ensuring it was 2-2 after three kicks each. Fernandes then gave us the lead for the first time in the shootout before Coventry captain Ben Sheaf blazed over. 

That gave Rasmus Hojlund the opportunity to book our place in a record 22nd FA Cup final by scoring, which he did, powering past Collins and into the net to conclude an eventful semi-final.

Hojlund struck home the decisive penalty to ensure Ten Hag's men will be heading back to Wembley next month.


Coventry: Collins; Latibeaudiere (Tavares 63 (Godden 105)), Thomas, Kitching (Binks 63), Bidwell (Dasilva 80); Eccles (Torp 63), Sheaf (c); van Ewijk, O'Hare, Wright; Simms.

Subs not used:
Wilson, Kelly, Allen, Andrews.

Booked: Collins, Dasilva, Thomas.

Goals: Simms 71, O'Hare 79, Wright (pen) 90+5.

Onana; Dalot, Casemiro, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay (Forson 103), Mainoo (Eriksen 72); Garnacho (Antony 66), Fernandes (c), Rashford (Amad 90+7); Hojlund.

Subs not used:
Bayindir, Amass, Jackson, Ogunneye, Wheatley.

Booked: Onana.

Goals: McTominay 23, Maguire 45+1, Fernandes 58.