Manchester United beat nine-man Fulham 3-1 in a thrilling FA Cup quarterfinal encounter. A handball by Willian on the goal line saw him sent off, with Aleksandar Mitrovic following him soon after for putting his hands on the referee. Head coach Marco Silva was also sent off in the commotion.
Bruno Fernandes canceled out Mitrovic’s goal before Sabitzer first goal for the club gave United the lead and the win. Fernandes added the gloss on the scoreline with his second in the dying minutes.
Here are the key takeaways from a hectic game that picked up the pace late on:
Another date with Wembley sealed
This was never going to be a straightforward affair for Manchester United. Fulham have found their groove this season and Manchester United players are accumulating a lot of mileage in their legs.
It turned out the same way as Fulham pressed United to near oblivion before five frantic minutes decided the tie in their favour.
Now, another date with Wembley is sealed, as Red Devils are set to take on another Premier League outfit, Brighton and Hove Albion. United can realistically win three trophies this season and sometimes, teams need luck to get through. Fulham’s implosion played its part here but credit to United for smelling an opportunity and going for the kill.
The players are tired
Fulham started brightly, with their front foot pressing in the first quarter of an hour visibly frustrating a tired United side who had traveled back from Seville on Thursday.
The second half’s beginning was more of the same but Fulham capitalised on their ascendancy. Old Trafford was left stunned as hitman Mitrovic bundled in from close range as the ball bobbled in the box from a simple corner.
A short flurry of response from United gave way to Erik ten Hag having seen enough. Scott McTominey gave way to Antony as Bruno Fernandes came increasingly deeper to give United a ball progressor from the deep. However, that failed to change the tide as United needed David de Gea again to save from a Mitrovic header.
United struggled to string passes together throughout as Fulham’s freshness and desire, combined with their quality on the ball, made all the difference.
Usual first-team player Antony made the difference for United when he came on. In a game where Erik ten Hag might have wanted his backups to complete the job, the performances of many left a lot to be desired.
Fulham threatened an upset before chaotic collapse
It was going just as Marco Silva had imagined. United looked rattled by Fulham’s press and they had the lead going into the last half-an-hour. Old Trafford crowd was getting antsy and there was frustration all around. Then arrived Fulham’s implosion.
😲 @FulhamFC go down to 𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗘 men as @willianborges88 is sent off for handball, while Mitrović receives red for barging the referee!#FACup #MUNFUL 👹🏠 pic.twitter.com/HZIe5X5Dc9
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) March 19, 2023
Willian became a goalkeeper, hitting the ball away from his arm on the goal line. The referee sent off the Brazilian after VAR review and anticipating that dismissal, head coach Marco Silva got himself sent off too. Aleksandar Mitrovic then needlessly put his hands on the referee to reduce Fulham down to nine. Bruno Fernandes scored from the resulting penalty to equalise things for United.
It then became a game of United’s attack vs Fulham’s defence, and United were already in the lead within 5 minutes after barely threatening Bernd Leno’s goal prior. Bruno Fernandes’ second goal, and United’s third, slightly flattered United but Fulham brought this fate upon themselves.
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