Coventry City 3-3 (aet, 2-4p) Manchester United: Red Devils set up replay of 2023 FA Cup Final

Manchester United survived a late scare to set up a carbon copy of last year’s Emirates FA Cup final against local rivals Manchester City – in which Pep Guardiola’s side won 2-1 – as Rasmus Højlund’s winning penalty secured a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over Coventry City at Wembley Stadium.

Reportedly under pressure from the higher echelons of Old Trafford’s hierarchy, manager Erik ten Hag would have undoubtedly enjoyed his side’s success over the Sky Blues – who now turn their attention back to salvaging their season by potentially finishing in the top six of the Championship, and then locate a route back to Wembley for the play-off final.

As it happened

Against the backdrop of 36,000 sold-out Sky Blues supporters inside Wembley Stadium, which arguably could have been significantly more, Mark Robins’ side implemented a counter-attacking approach in an end-to-end opening quarter-hour to the game as lone striker Ellis Simms kept Diogo Dalot firmly on his toes.

However, it was at the other end of the Wembley pitch where the deadlock should really have been broken as Marcus Rashford sent Casemiro’s defensive-splitting pass the wrong side of the post – when it appeared easier for the England international to find the back of the net. Nonetheless, Rashford’s blushes were spared four minutes later as Dalot’s delicious delivery across the danger zone was fired home past Bradley Collins at the back post by the fast-arriving McTominay.

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Back in his familiar defensive territory, Dalot prevented Coventry from almost certainly manufacturing a well-worked equaliser on the horizon of half-time as the Portuguese international instinctively intercepted the ball on the goalline before Simms could slot the ball into an empty net.

Collins pulled off a spectacular one-handed save to stop Rashford’s fiercely-struck strike in the 45th minute. However, the Sky Blues’ shotstopper could not prevent Maguire from doubling United’s lead from the resulting corner as the defender clinically made his way up from the back to authoritatively head home Fernandes’ inswinging delivery.

On course for a second successive appearance in an FA Cup final, United came within inches of putting that incoming prospect beyond doubt almost immediately from the restart, as Fernandes fired a curler narrowly over the bar. Eager to get his name onto the scoresheet, United’s captain did so on the stroke of the hour-mark as his strike towards goal took a deflection on its way past Collins.

Simms brought a glimmer of hope towards Coventry’s hopes of a miraculous comeback by brilliantly sweeping the ball beyond the grasp of André Onana in the 71st minute. Unbelievably, Callum O’Hare reduced the arrears to only one goal eight minutes later, as his audacious effort took a mammoth deflection off Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s back before wrong-footing United’s number one on its way into the back of the net.

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Sensationally, late drama would ensue at Wembley as Coventry performed their miracle by forcing extra-time – via the boot of Haji Wright from the penalty spot in the 95th minute – after Wan-Bissaka was adjudged to have handled an incoming cross into the area by referee Robert Jones.

Fernandes struck the crossbar with Collins beaten after four minutes of the extra thirty, as United went on the offensive to try and win the game after spectacularly blowing a three-goal lead. Maguire went on to force a sublime save from the Sky Blues’ number one right after the commencement of the second period of extra time.

With time running out before the potential of a penalty shootout, first Onana came to United’s rescue as he somehow redirected Simms’ strike onto the underside of the bar before second-half substitute Victor Torp heartbreakingly had a goal disallowed – via VAR’s eagle-eye for a marginal offside in the build-up.

Ultimately, Højlund was left to fire the Red Devils into the final against defending champions Manchester City after Coventry captain Ben Sheaf had skied his penalty high into the United supporters behind the goal.

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The lineups

COV: Collins; Thomas, Kitching, Latibeaudiere; Bidwell, Sheaf, Eccles; van Ewijk, O’Hare, Wright; Simms

MUN: Onana; Dalot, Maguire, Casemiro, Wan-Bissaka; Mainoo, McTominay; Garnacho, Fernandes, Rashford; Højlund