Manchester United are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup after defeating Westham in an FA Cup replay at Upton park.
They were forced to a replay after the first game ended 1-1 at old trafford in March with goals from Dimitri Payet for Westham and Anthony Martial for Manchester United.This was Manchester united’s only hope of a trophy this season,and the pressure brought out the best in Manchester United. It was arguably their finest display of the season under Louis van Gaal, despite the slender margin of victory and some anxious moments late on.Louis Van Gaal decided to start Marouane Fellaini in midfield probably to curb the threat of Andy Carroll while Ander Herrera returned in midfield in place of Juan Mata.Front foot, brave and youthful, this was United as they should always be – full of the vitality and energy that have been missing this season. Had they played like this all year, Van Gaal’s future would not be the subject of speculation. Then again, had they played like this all year, they would not be facing such a battle to qualify for the Champions League.
Rashford is truly something special, his instinct for goal, skill and precious accuracy, offering the eventual separation of the sides after 54 minutes. It was an exceptional strike, coming from a mistake by Michail Antonio, who had an off night by his fine recent standards. He gave the ball away to Anthony Martial in a dangerous position inside his own half. Martial fed Rashford but what he did from there was individual and quite beautiful.He took the ball inside, sized up the target from distance and curled a delightful right foot shot into the far top corner from 25 yards. Darren Randolph, West Ham’s stand-in goalkeeper, had been excellent until then – but this time he had no chance.
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The second goal could not have been more different, but it proved to be the winner after West Ham’s late revival. In his own, sweet, way Fellaini started it and finished it, at first chesting the ball down for Jesse Lingard from Daley Blind’s cross. It was played across to Martial whose shot was wild, but Fellaini reacted quickly and it struck his body, diverting into the net. A fluke? Not a bit. Fellaini was still alive to the possibilities, his markers were not. Not classy then but, boy, did it prove necessary.With 12 minutes to go, Carroll at last got the service he needed, heading the ball back across the area for James Tomkins to convert. There followed a grandstand finish, just as the old place deserved. Carroll came close with a header, but it was David De Gea’s brilliant point blank saves that kept United in the game.
Manchester United now book a date with Everton for the semi-finals in Wembley.In the other semi-finals, Crystal palace takes on Odion Ighalo’s Watford for a place in the FA Cup finals,the most prestigious cup in England’s history.