Man Utd shake off Coventry scare to set up Man City FA Cup final

Manchester United forward Rasmus Hojlund scores the winning penalty against Coventry to send his side through to the FA Cup final © Glyn KIRK / AFP

London (AFP) – Manchester United survived an astonishing collapse to beat Coventry City on penalties in an FA Cup classic on Sunday, setting up a second straight final against Manchester City.

Erik ten Hag’s men won the shootout at Wembley 4-2, with Rasmus Hojlund scoring the decisive spot kick after the teams were level at 3-3 after extra-time.

The game perfectly encapsulated a chaotic season for Ten Hag’s men, who are well off the pace in the Premier League.

There was no hint of what was to come when United coasted into a 3-0 lead against their second-tier opponents in the London sunshine, with goals from Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes.

But they have made a habit of tossing away leads in recent weeks and the match against Coventry proved no different.

Second-half strikes from Ellis Simms and Callum O’Hare gave the 1987 FA Cup winners hope and Haji Wright levelled from the penalty spot in the 95th minute, capping a scarcely credible comeback.

Coventry fans taunted Ten Hag with chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as belief infused the massed ranks of supporters clad in blue.

A gripping period of extra time followed, with both teams hitting the woodwork, before United held their nerve to win the shootout.

“We put ourselves in a difficult position and should have killed it earlier but we didn’t,” said United captain Fernandes. “We have to do so much better.”

Robins factor

Coventry manager Mark Robins famously played a key part in United’s FA Cup final win in 1990, a victory that launched two decades of success under Alex Ferguson.

But his team’s push to reach the Championship play-offs has faded in recent weeks and they travelled to Wembley as underdogs despite United’s stuttering season.

United, 12-time winners of the competition, settled early and took the lead in the 23rd minute after a fine move down the right.

Alejandro Garnacho fed the overlapping Diogo Dalot, whose cross went under the hands of the diving Bradley Collins and was tapped in by McTominay from close range.

Scott McTominay (left) celebrates his goal for Manchester United against Coventry in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley © Ian Kington / AFP

Marcus Rashford forced a fine save from Collins late in the first half but United doubled their lead from the resulting corner, with Maguire heading home from Fernandes’s cross.

Coventry, who scored twice in stoppage time to beat Premier League Wolves in the quarter-finals, looked brighter in the early stages of the second half.

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But the wind was taken out of their sails when Fernandes’s shot found its way past Collins in the 58th minute, courtesy of a deflection off defender Bobby Thomas.

Coventry pulled a goal back when top-scorer Ellis Simms connected with a cross from substitute Fabio Tavares in the 71st minute.

They made it 3-2 in the 79th minute when O’Hare’s shot from just outside the box looped off Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s back and over Andre Onana.

Coventry’s fans were now in full voice as their team mounted waves of attacks.

Substitute Victor Torp hit a stinging shot from the edge of the area with five minutes of normal time to go, forcing Onana into a sharp save.

But Coventry still were not finished.

Wan-Bissaka was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area and Wright scored from the spot to take the match into extra time.

Coventry looked the more likely winners in 10 long minutes of stoppage time but could not find a winner.

Fernandes rattled the crossbar early in the first period extra time when set up by substitute Amad Diallo.

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Simms then smashed a shot off the underside of the crossbar as time ran out.

Coventry thought they had won it in the dying moments, sending their fans delirious when Torp poked the ball past Onana but a VAR check ruled that Wright was offside by the narrowest of margins.

The Championship side drew first blood in the shootout when Casemiro’s weak penalty was saved by Collins.

But O’Hare and captain Ben Sheaf failed to convert, leaving Hojlund with the job of sending United through and he made no mistake.

Manchester City, who beat United in the 2023 FA Cup final, edged Chelsea 1-0 in the other semi-final on Saturday.

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