Match report as Manchester United progress to an FA Cup semi-final against Brighton following Fulham’s self-inflicted capitulation at Old Trafford; red cards for Willian and Aleksandar Mitrovic, plus Marco Silva, before Bruno Fernandes (2) and Marcel Sabitzer win it for Man Utd.
Marco Silva’s side had appeared to be in control of the quarter-final following Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goal early in the second half but Willian’s handball sparked an astonishing turnaround that saw coach Silva and Mitrovic red carded as well as the Brazilian.
Bruno Fernandes levelled the tie from the penalty spot and Marcel Sabitzer’s clever finish from close range completed the reversal of fortunes to leave Fulham’s remaining nine men bereft. Fernandes added late gloss to the scoreline with an emphatic finish and it is Erik ten Hag’s team that will face Brighton at Wembley next month.
How Fulham threw it away at Old Trafford
For much of the afternoon, Fulham were the more impressive side, with United’s six-month unbeaten run in front of their own fans at risk. It was a deserved lead for the away side when Mitrovic turned the ball into the net from Issa Diop’s flick early in the second half.
Without the suspended Casemiro in midfield, United struggled to gain control. It was Joao Palhinha, back in the Fulham midfield following a suspension of his own, who was the dominant figure in the middle of the pitch. And then, the game flipped.
United countered at pace and with Jadon Sancho having rounded Bernd Leno, Willian opted to block the ball near the line with his hand. It was spotted following a VAR review and if there was sympathy for the player there was none for the actions of his team-mate.
Mitrovic aggressively shoved referee Chris Kavanagh and left the official with no option but to send him from the field. Ten players would have been tough. Nine made it impossible and when Fernandes converted his spot-kick the momentum was unstoppable.
Sabitzer still deserves some kudos for the finish that put United in front, however. Luke Shaw’s centre was delightfully turned in by the midfielder and Fulham knew it was over. Fernandes’ second of the game made it look straightforward. But this was a crazy game.