That’s How You March Out of the FA Cup

March penalty miss sets up United-City FA Cup final - RTHK

The fun part about being an Arsenal fan is that you’d take a keen interest around everything concerning the Premier League and English football at large, and after witnessing Riyad Mahrez smash in a sensational hat-trick to send Manchester City to the FA Cup final, I got the cold beer ready, as I watched the exciting Brighton take on Manchester United.

But prior to that, I witnessed Tottenham do the most Tottenham thing you’d expect from them – conceding five goals in 21 minutes. It was so embarrassing that their shaky goalie, Hugo Lloris, had to be subbed off at half time for Fraser Forster, who got in on the conceding act as Newcastle United ran riot to end the tie at 6-1. Harry Kane still managed to score on the day, taking his tally to 24, and one must wonder what was going through his mind regarding his future, as Spurs are likely to miss out on Champions League football entirely at the end of this campaign. Not like we care though, at least St. Totteringham’s Day has been assured, and we have missed that.

Going back to the Brighton vs Manchester United game, I expected an exciting contest and got it in full measure as Roberto de Zerbi continues to do an amazing work with the team after taking over from Graham Potter and losing a key asset like Leandro Trossard in January. Manchester United were utterly embarrassed by Sevilla in midweek, with Harry Maguire doing Harry Maguire stuff, forcing Erik Ten Hag to shuffle the pack in the defense, drafting Aaron Wan-Bissaka ahead of Dalot at right back, playing Diogo Dalot at left back, while Luke Shaw played in the heart of the defense alongside Victor Lindelof – anything to keep the great Magu out of the squad, I guess.

Brighton drew first blood when Alexis MacAllister let one rip from a dead ball but David de Gea was on hand to make a superb stop despite losing sight of the ball due to the sunlight in his eyes. He has always been a good shot stopper, but he’s always capable of a howler or two, like he showcased in the game at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Brighton continued the attack with Pascal Gross and Solly March combining well on the right before teeing up Enciso who took a deft touch and stabbed a right-footed strike that missed the left post by a lick of paint. 

After being pinned to the corner early on, Manchester United got some respite when the fit-again Christian Eriksen found Bruno Fernandes on the edge of the Brighton area and the Portuguese maverick blasted a goal-bound shot that was saved superbly by Robert Sanchez. Sanchez has done well to fight for his place since losing his place to Jason Steele a couple of weeks ago. Casemiro got yet another booking for lunging hard at MacAllister, but what else is on the news? Casemiro getting booked is as consistent as the lack of hair on Howard Webb’s head. However, he managed to find Fernandes in attack who made a lung-bursting run on the right hand channel before blasting a shot that went wide, much to his frustration. 

Manchester United ended the half on the ascendancy with Fernandes robbing Lewis Dunk to feed Anthony Martial that had spotted Sanchez off his line, but his attempted effort didn’t match the idea he had in mind as the ball sailed over the bar. It’s kinda like a luxury seeing Martial on the pitch these days, because he’s only a second away from missing the next three or four games by just sniffing air I guess.

Brighton came out of the blocks early in the second half with de Gea making a top notch save from Enciso after a goal-mouth scramble. Shortly afterwards, former United forward, Danny Welbeck, rose the highest to nod a perfectly swung corner kick, but his attempt was nodded into orbit. After some decent attacking play, March managed to shimmy past his marker but his left-footed drive wasn’t strong enough to beat de Gea. 

Like a classic boxing bout, Manchester United took some punches, got pinned on the ropes, and came back blazing to start a rally of sorts. Fernandes was at the heart of everything good the Red Devils mustered from an attacking standpoint and he was on hand to feed Antony, who dropped his shoulder and curled a sumptuous ball that was saved by Sanchez. It’s fair to say that both goalies did their bit to earn their salaries on the night. 

After some good end-to-end stuff from both sides, extra time beckoned and both sides looked very jaded. Brighton almost got the all-important strike when MacAllister and Moises Caicedo combined superbly before feeding Denis Undav but the forward’s first touch was Romelu Lukaku-esque with the ball evading him and a glorious chance went begging. Manchester United’s dangerman, Marcus Rashford, had been on the periphery all game long but he sprung to life, after receiving the ball, leaving his marker for dead and firing a fizzling shot that was saved by Sanchez. He had another chance after receiving the ball from Casemiro but his effort sailed effortlessly wide. 

The last action came late on when Brighton carved open the Manchester United defense with some intricate passing play, but the final chance fell on Kaoru Mitoma’s feet but his heavy first touch allowed the ball get to de Gea’s path and the keeper wasted no time in smothering the ball to keep the stalemate on.

120 minutes couldn’t separate both sides and we had to rely on the lotteries of a penalty shootout. These things are fun when you’re watching as a neutral, but many Manchester United fans I knew were biting their fingers in anguish because they were certain that de Gea wasn’t going to catch any penalty, due to his atrocious record from 12 yards. And they were not wrong. Even though there were some high quality penalties on display, de Gea’s meek attempts to dive were laughable at best, despite the fact that he was reading some sort of cheat sheet hidden within his towel. However, he didn’t need to do anything as Solly March missed the decisive spot kick at sudden death, before Lindelof scored the kick that has confirmed a Manchester Derby for the FA Cup final next month.

Brighton will take solace from what has been a great FA Cup campaign that saw them knock out the holders, Liverpool, on their way to the semis, so they’d need to turn their attention to the Premier League, as a Europa League finish is still within sight. 


Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily.

Visit Gooner Daily’s  Facebook page.

Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List

About enigma106

An Arsenal fan with a good sense of humor

Posted on April 24, 2023, in FA Cup, Football and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: