Manchester United are through to the FA Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 win as Fulham imploded after three quick red cards on a dramatic day at Old Trafford.
Marco Silva’s side had appeared to be in control of the quarter-final after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goal early in the second half, but Willian’s handball sparked a stunning turnaround which saw coach Silva and Mitrovic receive red cards as well as the Brazilian.
Bruno Fernandes equalized from the penalty spot and Marcel Sabitzer’s smart finish from close range completed the reversal of fortunes to leave Fulham’s remaining nine men bereft. Fernandes added a late touch to the scoring with an emphatic finish and it is Erik ten Hag’s side who take on Brighton at Wembley next month.
Man Utd: De Gea (8), Wan-Bissaka (6), Martinez (7), Maguire (5), Shaw (7), McTominay (5), Sabitzer (7), Fernandes (8), Sancho (6), Rashford ( 6), Weghorst (5).
Subtitles: Anthony (7), Fred (n/a).
Fulham: Leno (7), Tete (7), Diop (7), Ream (7), Robinson (7), Palhinha (9), Reed (7), Andreas (7), De Cordova-Reid (7), Mitrovic ( 3), William (5).
Subtitles: James (n/a), Solomon (n/a), Soares (n/a), Cairney (n/a).
Player of the game: Joao Palhinha.
How Fulham dumped him at Old Trafford
For much of the afternoon, Fulham were the more impressive team, with United’s six-month unbeaten streak in front of their own at-risk fans. It was a deserved lead for the away team when Mitrovic turned the ball into the net from an Issa Diop shot early in the second half.
Without Casemiro suspended in midfield, United struggled to gain control. It was Joao Palhinha, back in midfield for Fulham following his own suspension, who was the dominant figure in midfield. And then the game changed.
Erik ten Hag has made four changes to the Manchester United squad that beat Real Betis on Thursday night. Luke Shaw returned in place of Tyrell Malacia. The suspended Casemiro made way for Scott McTominay. Marcel Sabitzer and Jadon Sancho replaced Fred and Facundo Pellistri, who both fell to the bench.
Fulham boss Marco Silva has made three changes to his squad. Issa Diop replaced Tosin Adarabioyo at the back, Joao Palhinha returned from suspension in place of Sasa Lukic and Willian was back with Manor Solomon named among the substitutes.
United countered at pace and with Jadon Sancho rounding Bernd Leno, Willian opted to block the ball near the line with his hand. He was scouted following a VAR review and while there was sympathy for the player, there was none for his teammate’s actions.
Mitrovic aggressively pushed referee Chris Kavanagh and left the official no choice but to send him off the field. Ten players would have been difficult. Nine made that impossible and when Fernandes converted his kick, the momentum was unstoppable.
However, Sabitzer still deserves kudos for the finish that put United ahead. Luke Shaw’s cross was deliciously converted from midfield and Fulham knew it was over. Fernandes’ second of the game made it look simple. But it was a crazy game.
Silva: We were the best team
“Until the penalty and the red card, we were clearly the better team on the pitch,” Silva said. TVI. “We respect Manchester United but it was clear we were the best team on the pitch.”
Asked about the decisions, he added: “What is difficult to understand is why the two moments in their box in the first half where one of them is a clear penalty on Mitrovic – why nobody did he check?”
On his own red card, he said: “If you ask me if I’ve done something I’m happy with, of course not. But if you ask me if it should be a red card, I have big doubts. I would like to know what the referee will write about what I told him.”
Keane: United need a kick in the back
“I’ve lost a bit of confidence watching United now,” said former Manchester United captain Roy Keane. TVI.
“A month or two ago I thought they were in. But the last two games I’ve seen some habits come back.
“It’s good to play once in a while, but right now it feels like their DNA. They’ve slipped into some really bad habits.
“They came in today hoping to win the game because they have quality players. But if they show up with that attitude for the semi-final then Brighton will beat them.
“United need a kick in the back.”
Sunday, April 2, 4:00 p.m.
Kick off 4:30 p.m.
Fulham are back in action after the international break with a trip to Bournemouth on Saturday April 1, while Manchester United return to action the following day in front of Sky Sports cameras.
Ten Hag’s side travel to Newcastle for Super Sunday when the 4.30pm kick-off at St James’ Park.