Sunday, 22 April 2018

Match report: United 2-1 Tottenham

United completed another come-from-behind victory to condemn Spurs to an eighth successive FA Cup semi final defeat and deservedly set up our own record - equalling 20th final. Dele Alli put Mauricio Pochettino's side ahead early on but - unlike our last visit to Wembley in January - the Reds responded through Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera, who fired home the winner shortly after the hour mark to send the team into our third major showpiece in two seasons. United will face Chelsea or Southampton, who meet on Sunday, back at the national stadium on 19th May.

Ten of the side who started that 0-2 horror show were picked again here, and there was a sense of unfolding deja vu as Spurs started strongly and forced a flurry of early corners. Having gone behind after eleven seconds last time, United had time for a chance of their own this time when Romelu Lukaku headed over the bar from a Jesse Lingard cross. The Reds were made to rue that miss when Tottenham drew first blood again, through Alli, as Christian Eriksen this time turned provider. The talented Dane burst clear down the left and swung in a cross to pick out the onrushing Alli, who slid in and poked home beyond David de Gea. Spurs continued to press and went close twice in quick succession, through Eriksen's drive from distance and then Heung - min Son, who fired wide on the turn.

With seven goals at Wembley for club and country, there is something about the place that brings out the best in Alexis, and he was at it again on 24 minutes.Booed with every touch by the Tottenham faithful because of his Arsenal connection, Sanchez silenced their support as he met Paul Pogba's inviting cross with an athletic header which he planted beyond goalkeeper Michel Vorm for United's leveller against the run of play.
With both sides needing this Cup as silverware salvation, many had predicted a typically tight and tactical battle, but both sides continued to trade chances and Spurs almost moved ahead again as Eric Dier's deflected drive from distance wrong-footed DDG and rebounded to safety off a post.

Then, in the 62nd minute, United and Herrera played the decisive hand. Alexis was involved again but this time there was possibly an element of fortune about the build - up as his cut-back ran beyond both Lukaku and Lingard to drop invitingly for the onrushing Herrera, who steered home a low effort from 20 yards.

Spurs were ragged and reeling, and the 'home' side were unable to find anything by way of response as United almost put the result beyond doubt through Alexis, who headed narrowly wide. Pochettino's side have won praise for their effervescent energy and guile, but a lack of that killer edge that United have in abundance remains their Achilles heel. So back we go to Wembley then with the prospect of a 13th FA Cup win at stake. Roll on 19 May.

Overall team performance: 7.5/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Alexis Sanchez




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