Brighton was better, but Manchester United reached the FA Cup Final

Brighton was better, but Manchester United reached the FA Cup Final

Rob DawsonReporter7 minutes to read

Onoha: It’s going to be a great first FA Cup final

Nedum Onuoha is eyeing the FA Cup final after Manchester United beat Brighton on penalties in the semi-final.

London – Manchester United put up the FA Cup final against neighbors Manchester City with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday at Wembley.

After 120 goalless minutes and six successful penalties, Solly Marsh missed Brighton’s seventh kick before Victor Lindelof stepped up to score.

This means that the two rivals for Manchester will meet for the first time in the FA Cup final on June 3, giving United the opportunity to stop Man City from completing the treble – a feat only achieved once before in England, through Man United in 1999.

fast response

1. Mental toughness carried Man United to the FA Cup Final against Manchester City

United manager Eric ten Hag said he wanted to respond to his team’s dismal Europa League exit against Sevilla on Thursday and, at least in terms of character, he’s got it. There were periods of Sunday’s game in which United were second best to Brighton, but when it became a mental test in a penalty shootout, they held on to the top spot.

Man United had lost seven penalties out of their previous eight, including the 2021 Europa League final against Villarreal, but they edged past Brighton to secure their first FA Cup final against Manchester City in June.

Manchester United players celebrate after beating Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on April 23, 2023.Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

Victor Lindelof scored the decisive penalty after March missed the Brighton side – but there must be special mention of Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, who stepped up to convert from the penalty spot nearly two years after missing England’s defeat to Italy in Europe. Championship final.

Sancho has had a miserable season and was dismal against Sevilla on Thursday but showed great strength in first volunteering for a penalty and then poking it wide. There was a risk the season could fall apart after the debacle in Spain, but Ten Hag’s side got plenty of play in the next six weeks with the FA Cup Final to look forward to and a place in the top four.

2. Brighton’s midfield outperformed Man United

Midfield is one of the many areas in United’s squad that needs strengthening and Ten Hag could do worse considering Brighton duo Alexis McAllister and Moises Caicedo, who have made Brighton the better stretch team.

The pair are very important to the way Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi wants his team to play, and both got particular interest from Manchester United midfielders Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes when Brighton were trying to play from the back. But defenders Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster trusted McAllister and Caicedo to find half a yard of space and throw the ball to another blue shirt.

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United tried time and time again to force Brighton to make mistakes, but more often than not, McAllister and Caicedo led them through the pressure. Brighton’s cutting-edge football has been hailed by Pep Guardiola as ‘the best in the world’ recently, and at Wembley they have lived up to the billing.

In contrast, United often looked to go wide for Anthony Martial and there was reason why Brighton completed their double number of assists after 25 minutes. Brighton had the better chances in the 90 minutes and looked the most likely to score until the penalty shootout but Brighton, and in particular McAllister and Caicedo, can be proud of their performance.

3. Brighton’s growth under De Zerby has been remarkable

It was only Brighton’s second FA Cup semi-final since reaching the final in 1983 – when they lost a replay to United – but days like these will become the norm if they continue to progress in the same way under De Zerby.

The Seagulls won’t have the budget to compete regularly with the likes of Man United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League – but with the Italian manager in charge, it’s realistic to think they can continue to challenge for a place in Europe. Given the upset caused by Graham Potter’s loss to Chelsea in September, it is remarkable what De Zerby managed to achieve despite being parachuted out midway through the season.

The problem for Brighton is that their best players will always attract the attention of the bigger clubs – as evidenced by Arsenal’s pursuit of Caicedo in January – and it’s almost impossible to keep them all. The loss of key personnel summer after summer is putting pressure on the recruitment department to continue to discover hidden gems, but the development of players like March has already shown that De Zerbi is a coach who can get the best out of the team.

Enjoying their day at Wembley, Brighton fans were transformed into a sea of ​​blue and white flags before kick-off. They will be back soon

The best and worst performers

Best: Moises Caicedo, MF, Brighton

United’s No. 8 tried to pressure him but he was still good enough to bounce the ball into tight spaces.

Best: David De Gea, goalkeeper, Manchester United

He had a shock against Sevilla but made three good saves here, the first from a McAllister free-kick after just seven minutes.

Best: Victor Lindelof, DF, Manchester United

He defended well Lisandro Martínez and Raphael Varane and scored the decisive penalty in the shootout.

Brighton’s Solly March consoles teammate Louis Dunk after a missed penalty in March sealed Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final victory.Eddie Keogh/The FA via Getty Images

Worst: Christian Eriksen, MF, Manchester United

Just back from a serious injury, he seemed to lack energy and was substituted early in the second half.

The worst: Julio Enciso, FW, Brighton

The 19-year-old made David De Gea good saves but was sometimes a bit naive with his use of the ball.

Worst: Anthony, striker, Man United

The Brazilian winger got some good positions, but his decision-making around the Brighton box area angered Ten Hag.

Highlights and notable moments

After the match: what the managers and players said

Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag on his team’s response after losing Sevilla: “On Thursday I saw a team I didn’t know but today we are back to normal. I saw determination and resilience. We fought for every arena and competed in every battle. We had good chances.”

Ten Hag on David De Gea’s performance: “I was very impressed with him. He made some great saves. He hurt when he made mistakes on Thursday.”

Key stats (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information Research)

  • Man United has qualified for the 21st FA Cup Final, tied with Arsenal for the most time.

  • Man United have reached the final of each of the major domestic cup competitions in a season for the third time, previously in 1982-83 and 1993-94. They defeated Newcastle in the Carabao Cup Final.

  • Man United reached the final of the FA Cup and League Cup for the first time since 1993-1994 (the FA won, the League Cup lost).

  • Brighton have never won a competitive match at Wembley, drawing one and losing four of their five visits. That run began against Manchester United in the 1983 FA Cup Final, which they drew 2-2 and then lost 4-0 in the replay.

  • Man United have been excluded from regulation in consecutive matches this season for the first time (all competitions).

the next

Brighton and Hove Albion: The Seagulls will resume their Premier League campaign with a visit to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, April 26th at 2:30pm ET.

Manchester United: The fourth-placed Red Devils head to Tottenham to take on fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Thursday, April 27 at 3:15pm ET in a match that could have major implications for the Champions League last four. The FA Cup final between Man United and Man City is scheduled to take place on June 3 at Wembley.

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