Tuesday 31 May 2016

April: A setback, successive wins and a semi-final

Everton provided the first and last opposition of the month and the out of form Toffees are beaten at Old Trafford as Tony Martial's second half winner keeps United in the top four hunt despite another unconvincing display

The Reds are delayed in north London and end up well beaten despite matching Spurs for 70 minutes as the title chasing hosts eventually pull away to triumph through Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela's three goal burst in six second half minutes.

Van Gaal is criticised for his baffling tactics with Ashley Young deployed as a striker in the second half having replaced Rashford at the break, a decision that backfires badly as United lose valuable ground in the Champions League race. 

From one part of the capital to the other on the Wednesday and the last ever FA Cup tie at the "Boleyn" for a place in the semi-finals at Wembley

The fervent and passionate crowd are against United but the hosts are nervy and tentative as the Reds punish them through Rashford and Fellaini to seal a semi-final spot even after James Tomkins late goal for the Hammers.

David De Gea is heroic once more with a series of superb stops, youngster Tim Fosu-Mensah impresses again and Rooney's return provides a boost as United survive a late siege from Slaven Bilic's side to seal a semi-final spot. 

Rashford scores his second in two games to relegate Villa in an unremarkable game before the Reds dispatch of meek Palace with ease as Darmian scores his first United goal, a screamer in front of the sparsely populated Stretford End.

Three wins in a row and the month ends as it started, with a third meeting of the season against Roberto Martinez's Everton- this time in the FA Cup semi-finals.

United produce arguably their best first half performance of the campaign and Fellaini nets against his old club but De Gea brilliantly saves Lukaku's penalty after Rooney clears off the line as the Toffees roar back. 

From then on the Reds are the ropes and Everton's long-threatened equaliser finally arrives when Smalling turns a Deulofeu cross into his own net to seemingly force extra-time.

Martial has other ideas though and the man that settled the recent league encounter does it again with a composed finish from Herrera's pass to send United into a first final for nine years against Palace in May. 

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