The Emirates FA Cup Semi-final
Everton vs. Manchester United
Date: Saturday, 23 April 2016
Kick-off: 17:15 BST
Manchester United booked their place in this season’s FA Cup Final with a 93rd minute winner against Everton at Wembley.
This semi-final had it all, with Marouane Fellaini opening the scoring against his former club, before fellow countryman Romelu Lukaku saw a penalty saved by David De Gea early after the restart.
A rejuvenated Everton side pulled level, with Chris Smalling converting Gerard Deulofeu’s cross into his own net.
With extra time looming large, who else than Anthony Martial to step forward and slot home a superb finish in the final minute of additional time, to book United’s place back at Wembley next month.
The first half flew by, with many chances falling at both ends, with Martial’s promising run deflecting behind off John Stones, with Fellaini seeing a tame header held from the resulting Daley Blind corner.
At the other end, Lukaku latched onto Joel Robles’ route one kick, rounded De Gea, but Wayne Rooney was on hand to head the Belgian’s attempt clear.
Marcos Rojo headed wide from Rooney’s free-kick before the latter’s dinked pass found Jesse Lingard, whose attempt was saved from close range by Robles.
Again it was Lukaku who raced onto a long ball, this time chasing down Tom Cleverley’s first time pass, but his touch let him down and De Gea saved from a tight angle.
Usually so composed in front of goal, Martial blazed over when sent clear by Lingard, with Blind’s diagonal allowing Fellaini to knock the ball down into the path of Rashford, but his tame volley was held with ease.
James McCarthy saw a deflected effort held, with Rooney also seeing his shot held, before the lead was taken by United.
The opening goal came after Rashford’s hold up play allowed Martial to take over the ball, and after reaching the byline, his pull back was scuffed in by Fellaini against his former club, to send Louis van Gaal’s side into the break ahead.
The second half arrived with neat interchange between youngsters Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Rashford and Martial teeing up Lingard, but he could only slice wide on his weaker foot.
Then came the penalty, and despite Fosu-Mensah clearly winning the ball from Ross Barkley, referee Anthony Taylor awarded a spot-kick, but De Gea was on hand to deny Lukaku, saving low to his right.
He then held Barkley’s low free-kick, as Aaron Lennon’s cross to the back foot was blazed over by Cleverley, with Lukaku then heading over from Cleverley’s cross.
Fellaini should’ve had his second of the game, when his goal-bound effort was blocked by the arm of Phil Jagielka, but no penalty was awarded, a decision even more bizarre when you consider what Everton’s was awarded for, as Rooney’s deflected attempt was held in a later move.
Just five minutes after appearing as a substitute, the lively Deulofeu received the ball wide right from Lukaku, and as his cross attempted to return the favour, Smalling’s miscued clearance came off his right shin and past De Gea to level proceedings.
Again Deulofeu was causing all sorts of problems, with his low shot deflecting off Michael Carrick and forcing De Gea to tip the ball away, as Leighton Baines’ cross bounced once before Lukaku headed wide.
After riding the Toffees storm, United probed for a late winner, with Martial’s cross just evading Lingard, before the former’s overhead kick from substitute Ander Herrera’s cross was blocked.
Into the third minute of three added, extra time was set in motion it seemed, but Rooney found Martial on the left, who played a one-two with Rashford, and then with Herrera, which allowed him to progress clean through on goal, and he slotted a finish into the bottom right-hand corner in front of the jubilant United fans.
And that was that, with two of United’s star performers this season coming up trumps once more, with De Gea’s spot-kick heroics as well as numerous other saves, and Martial’s last-gasp winner.
United shaded the first half, and Everton the second, who seemed spurred on after the interval and even more so after Lukaku’s penalty miss, but United seal their place in the final, where they will take on Crystal Palace or Watford at Wembley, on Saturday 21 May.
Before then, United’s league campaign comes to a conclusion, where they first welcome leaders Leicester City to Old Trafford next Sunday, with a 2:05pm kick-off.
Manchester United: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah (Valencia 62), Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Carrick; Lingard, Fellaini (Herrera 87), Rooney, Martial; Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Darmian, Valencia, Schneiderlin, Herrera, Mata, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Everton: Robles; Gibson (Mirallas 90+4), Stones, Jagielka, Baines; McCarthy, Besic; Lennon (Deulofeu 70), Barkley, Cleverley; Lukaku.
Subs: Howard, Hibbert, Oviedo, Mirallas, Deulofeu, Osman, Pennington.
Manager: Roberto Martinez