Manchester United Survive Spirited Coventry Comeback To Setup FA Cup Final Clash With Bitter Neighbours

Apr 21, 2024 - 20:53
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Manchester United Survive Spirited Coventry Comeback To Setup FA Cup Final Clash With Bitter Neighbours

 

By Ebi COLLINS 

Manchester United survived spirited Coventry comeback to win on penalties and booked another FA Cup final spot against bitter neighbours, Manchester City at Wembley on May 25.

Manchester United threw away a 3-0 lead and needed a last-gasp winner from Championship side Coventry to be reversed but grated into the FA Cup final with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory, where they will once again meet Manchester City.

Their ecstatic celebrations when Rasmus Hojlund scored the crucial penalty were fuelled by relief after an astonishing and dismal collapse had almost cost them.

Perhaps this was Erik ten Hag's 'Mark Robins moment' - the Coventry boss saved the job of Sir Alex Ferguson with a winner in this competition in 1990. Hojlund's spot-kick may have saved Ten Hag - but the fightback from Robins' side exposed all the flaws of the Dutchman's tenure.

Coventry pulled off a similar late show against Wolves in the quarter-finals weeks ago. But today's game was a horror show from United who triggered an emergency response when Ellis Simms pulled a goal back with 19 minutes to play.

It was all so normal until then, with Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes putting United into a seemingly unassailable position. But with a centre-back injury trouble aggravating a susceptibility and lack of compactness in United's play Coventry capitalised.

Callum O'Hare's deflected shot looped over Andre Onana and in the 95th minute, Haji Wright drew Coventry level from the spot after Aaron Wan-Bissaka's handball.

Drama ensued in extra-time with Fernandes and Simms both hitting the woodwork before Victor Torp thought he had scored the clincher on 121 minutes only for it to be overturned by VAR for offside in the build-up.

When Casemiro's opening penalty of the shootout was saved by Bradley Collins it seemed Coventry would complete the most incredible FA Cup turnaround - but O'Hare was denied by Andre Onana and when Sky Blues captain Ben Sheaf blasted his kick over the bar, Hojlund slotted in a fine spot kick to seal it.

For 1987 FA Cup champions Coventry, 10 years on from being forced to play at Northampton's stadium, this was ultimately another shootout defeat at Wembley after last season's play-off final loss to Luton. But another reminder of how far the club has come from the dark days a decade ago.

For Manchester United coach this was a victory but a damning one. Two years to the day since it was announced he would be United head coach he has somehow steered his side to a record 22nd FA Cup final, where they will hope to inflict revenge on rivals Man City on May 25. But even in victory, there will be fierce criticism.