Manchester United will face Manchester City in the FA Cup final after seeing off Brighton and Hove Albion in a penalty shootout at Wembley on Sunday. The game ended goalless after extra time, despite an avalanche of chances at both ends of the pitch, and United kept their nerve to convert every one of their seven penalties in the shootout.
Erik ten Hag made three changes to the side that succumbed to an embarrassing defeat in Seville on Thursday, with Luke Shaw in for the suspended Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford for Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes for Marcel Sabitzer. The result was an unfamiliar central defensive pair of Shaw and Victor Lindelöf, with Diogo Dalot continuing to deputise at left-back.
The game got off to a lively start with chances at both ends. David de Gea parried an Alexis MacAllister free-kick around the post in unorthodox fashion, shortly before Bruno Fernandes fired a low effort straight at Robert Sánchez from the edge of the Brighton box. Yet the majority of the first half emitted rather more heat than light, with a succession of stoppages disrupting the flow of play.
That was until the final few minutes of the first half, when United—who had been comfortably out-possessed—suddenly sprung to life. Casemiro cushioned a great volley for Fernandes, whose first-time effort flashed just wide of Sánchez’s far post. In stoppage time, Rashford pulled a low cross back for the late-arriving Christian Eriksen, though the Dane scuffed his shot into the ground, and Sánchez kicked it to safety.
Brighton started the second half much the better of the two sides, and only a smart reflex stop from De Gea prevented Julio Enciso from opening scoring from the edge of the box just short of the hour. Danny Welbeck leapt to meet the ensuing corner with a powerful header, though it cleared the crossbar from close range.
United weathered the storm, and gradually clawed their way back into the game, helped by the introduction of Fred for an ineffectual Eriksen. However, Brighton remained a threat, and Solly March forced a sprawling save from De Gea shortly before the referee blew the final whistle.
The game continued to ebb and flow into extra time, but somehow remained goalless. A heavy touch from Deniz Undav allowed Dalot to swoop in and made a goal-saving tackle, before a deflected Rashford effort was superbly saved by a diving Sánchez. Both sides toiled in search of a late winner, but it wasn’t to be: extra time ended goalless and a penalty shootout beckoned.
The first 12 penalties were all converted, with Casemiro, Dalot, Jadon Sancho, Rashford, Sabitzer and Wout Weghorst scoring for United. But on the 13th penalty, Brighton’s March blazed high and wide, gifting Lindelöf the chance to send United into the final. The Swede made no mistake, striking an inch-perfect penalty past Sánchez and into the top corner for a United win.