Martial fires Man Utd to FA Cup final after ousting Everton in added time
Holly Thackeray | April 23, 2016
Manchester United 2-1 Everton
- Fellaini fired first against former club in 33rd minute
- Everton awarded penalty before hour after Barkley burst
- De Gea denied Lukaku from spot
- Smalling scored own goal after Deulofeu deflection
- Martial created and scored stunning winner in added time
Man Utd make it to Wembley final
Manchester United are the first team to have booked their slot in the 2016 FA Cup final at Wembley, having overcome Northwest foes Everton 2-1 in their semi at England’s most famous stadium.
Starting with attacking intent from the off, the Red Devils took 33 minutes to go ahead through ex-Toffees hero Maroaune Fellaini, before a Chris Smalling slip-up saw the scoreline levelled. The exciting encounter looked set to go to extra-time as the clock ticked down, but Anthony Martial eventually proved the last gasp winner despite an Everton revival.
As the Red Devils (now odds-on 2/5 favourites with Coral to win the FA Cup) await one of Crystal Palace or Watford to cement their place in the other semi on Sunday, this result could impact both dugout coaching incumbents. Catalan tactician Roberto Martinez will now face even more questions about his Goodison Park future, after a second Northwest derby defeat in a week, while Louis van Gaal will be eagerly eyeing a shot at his first Man Utd medal and the potential to secure a third term at Old Trafford…
Early Red Devils dominance in exciting encounter
Menacing Martial was first to weave his way into the box down a left flank manned by square peg Muhamed Besic, forcing under the microscope defender John Stones into a last-ditch tackle in a sign of things to come.
But it was not long before Romelu Lukaku, released by a long punt from Joel Robles, charged at the shaky United defence. The big Belgian rode an early David De Gea interception and tried at goal from wide, but could not convert with Wayne Rooney having romped the length of the pitch to head heroically clear.
Direct Jesse Lingard then split Everton’s rearguard with a delicious ball, but Martial was ruled offside as the Red Devils ramped up the pressure, with Marcus Rashford’s slick movement causing havoc, while Rooney’s pinpoint pass over the top should have seen Lingard celebrate the opener rather than striking straight at the keeper.
Despite all the devilish and dangerous link-up play, the Mancunians could not convert, even as lively Lingard popped up to find Martial in another pocket of space, yet the usually ice-cold French attacker could only fire wildly high.
Fellaini at the first for United
Martial was soon to make amends however, easily accelerating past weak link Besic before picking out former Everton man Fellaini in the area and the Belgian bruiser duly lashed home to give Van Gaal’s guys the lead, with around 10 minutes to go before half-time.
Having struck in his second successive FA Cup outing, much-maligned battering ram Fellaini did not disguise his pleasure at dispatching past the Toffees.
The Red Devils continued to impose attacking threat after the interval, with interplay between Martial, Rashford and Lingard carving another exciting opening, though the latter fluffed his finishing with a shot scuffed well wide as Roy Hodgson watched the potential future Three Lion from the stands.
De Gea dramatically denies dangerman Lukaku
Everton suddenly sprang to life in the second-half on a counter through Ross Barkley, with the England international’s burst into United’s box resulting a penalty, though replays showed right back Timothy Fosu-Mensah pinched the ball cleanly from the midfielder with momentum taking him down.
It was Lukaku who stepped up for spot-kick duty, but ever diligent De Gea guessed the striker’s direction correctly and superbly repelled the strong shot one-handed much to the red half of Wembley’s delight.
Rather than be demoralised by the near miss, however, Martinez’s men rallied, as Aaron Lennon left Marcus Rojo bamboozled before whipping a cross in to meet Red Devils academy product Tom Cleverley – though he could only sky his lunging effort.
While, minutes later, after Fosu-Mensah was hauled off for Antonio Valencia, Cleverley whipped a cross from that right flank, but saw his opening ruined after Lukaku and Besic collided mid-air.
Smalling strikes own goal
The Red Devils responded to Everton’s sudden impetus with forward forays of their own, as this semi-final encounter became ever more end-to-end.
It was Martial again who provided a moment of magic, once more setting up Fellaini, who followed up his blocked shot ferociously, though centre back Phil Jagielka’s prone interception with his hand went unnoticed by the officials.
The Mancunian club were to pay for not taking their chances against their Merseyside opposition, however, as Gerard Deulofeu came on to change the game for the Toffees. Smalling was the culprit, turning the ball into his own net as part of an attempted clearance after the Spaniard cut inside to cross, expecting a blue shirt to convert instead.
Everton fans erupted as their Toffees team began to furiously press for further errors, with super sub Deulofeu’s dangerous strike slipping out of De Gea’s clutches before Lukaku narrowly missed nodding in a Leighton Baines ball.
While, as part of the frenetic finish to normal time, only a fantastic last-gasp tackle from Fellaini, who had furiously made up ground after a Deulofeu and Barkley breakaway, stopped Lukaku from lashing in a close-range winner.
Added time excellence from Martial
The match look destined to end as a draw in normal time, promising extra-time and potentially penalties. Yet, Man Utd’s inventive Martial had other ideas, as he instigated a dangerous move from deep in the 93rd minute, exchanging slick passes before receiving his ball back from Ander Herrera and striking cleanly into the bottom right corner.
Everton and even Red Devils support seemed equally stunned, as the Toffees head home having given their all in the second 45, while Martial, cautioned for his extensive celebration, and Man Utd now have a chance to end their disappointing season with some silverware.
So extravagant summer purchase Martial sends United to the FA Cup final, but who will they face? Don’t forget to check out our live reaction to tomorrow’s action.