From the high of watching Spurs beat Leicester City (had Spurs scored one more goal United would have climbed to 4th place, without even playing) to the low of missing out on a Wembley F.A. Cup Final. United were playing in their 30th FA Cup semi-final – no side has ever played in more. They had reached the final on 20 occasions, which is a joint record with Arsenal. The Reds had won all three previous encounters against Chelsea this term and a fourth win would have ensured our place at the historic first FA Cup final to be held in August.
But it was not to be. Goalkeeping and defensive errors, plus an unlucky own goal by the skipper put Chelsea three up, before Fernandes clawed one back from the penalty spot, this being United’s 19th penalty of the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed the playing system and personnel for the clash, making five changes, with Bailly, Fred, Williams, Matic, and James all starting. Pogba, Martial and Greenwood all began on the bench and were introduced in the second half. Ole surprisingly opted to play De Gea instead of Sergio Romero, in spite of the latter having played well in all the previous F.A. Cup games this season. Asked to explain on his team election, Ole replied, “We picked a team today to give us the best possible opportunity to go through in the Cup and be ready for Wednesday. It didn’t work today.”
My United Man of the match has to be Bruno Fernandes. He was constantly on the chase for the ball and won free-kicks in dangerous areas around the box as United looked to ease the pressure in the first half, and looked bright thereafter. Scored the late penalty that gave United some hope.
Concluded Ole: “Obviously, everyone has to perform and everyone has a chance every time they perform to stake a claim in the team. David knows he should have saved the second goal but that’s done now, we’ve got to move on, we’ve got to look forward to Wednesday [against West Ham].”
Article contributed by Contributor Kenneth. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.