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Man Utd avoid FA Cup humiliation vs Coventry with shootout win after Ten Hag 'test' flops

Man Utd squeezed past Coventry to reach the FA Cup final.

  • Apr 21 2024
  • 135
Man Utd avoid FA Cup humiliation vs Coventry with shootout win after Ten Hag 'test' flops
Man Utd avoid FA Cup humiliation vs Coventry with shootout win after Ten Hag 'test' flops

Rasmus Hojlund celebrates

Rasmus Hojlund sealed a penalty shootout victory for Man Utd over Coventry (Image: Getty)

overcame Coventry City in the semi-final despite a wild capitulation that led to the Championship side threatening the greatest of all comebacks. Rasmus Hojlund's penalty sealed a spot-kick triumph following a 3-3 draw after extra-time. Express Sport brings you five talking points.

Man Utd avoid humiliation

The most bizarre aspect of United’s second-half downfall was that they were so in control. Bruno Fernandes’s strike had given them a 3-0 lead before the hour-mark and United should have gone on to condemn their Championship opponents to a big defeat.

Defeats and letting leads slip in the Premier League are humiliating. But to allow it to happen at Wembley Stadium in an FA Cup semi-final against a Championship opponent is in an entirely different stratosphere.

VAR prevented this being one of the most disastrous FA Cup semi-final performances of all-time, with Victor Torp’s 120th-minute goal that would have made it 4-3 ruled out for offside. This can hardly be seen as a success for United, regardless of the result.

Mark Robins

Coventry were desperately unlucky to lose on penalties against Man Utd (Image: Getty)
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Erik ten Hag ‘test’ fails

Injuries forced Ten Hag to use Casemiro as a makeshift centre-back. The United boss is reported to have ‘tested’ a partnership of the Brazilian and Harry Maguire in training in the days before the game.

For most of the match, Casemiro and Maguire seemed comfortable. They kept the dangerous Ellis Simms at bay and Casemiro’s ability on the ball was helpful in building attacks from deep.

And then it all capitulated. A 20-yard gap between Casemiro and Maguire allowed Simms space to guide home a cross, although at that point the goal seemed a mere consolation.

The defending that followed was dire. Callum O’Hare’s deflected strike dipped over Andre Onana and under the crossbar. Haji Wright then converted a 90th-minute penalty to send the game into extra time.

A repeat of last year’s final

Once the inquest into the performance dies down, United have an FA Cup final against Manchester City. It is a repeat of last year’s showdown and gives United the chance of a trophy after a tough couple of months.

Last year's showdown ended in a 2-1 defeat for Ten Hag's side, and they went into that game off the back of a positive end to the season. This year's will be a big challenge.

Where does this leave Erik ten Hag?

Defeat against Coventry would likely have sealed Ten Hag’s fate. With qualification for the Champions League all but out of sight, the FA Cup is United’s only chance of a semblance of success this season.

Ten Hag would have been exceptionally concerned with elements of United’s performance and his own decision-making and game-management will be scrutinised in the days that follow. The Red Devils seemed comfortable up until the hour-mark, only to let Coventry back into the game.

Man City in the final provides the toughest test of all. If Ten Hag can win that then he might just convince INEOS that he deserves a bit more time, but United will go into that clash as “underdogs” - even in the words of minority shareholder and London Marathon participant Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Erik ten Hag

Questions will be asked of Erik ten Hag after another poor Man Utd display (Image: Getty)

Alejandro Garnacho’s reaction to substitution

Ten Hag revealed that Alejandro Garnacho apologised for liking posts on X criticising the Dutchman’s decision to substitute him in recent games. So all eyes were on the winger when his number was displayed on the fourth official’s board in the 65th minute.

Garnacho seemed disheartened by the decision but made no obvious objection. What should be considered is that a series of the teenager’s withdrawals have now been followed by United letting go of of leads.

He came off at 3-2 in United’s 4-3 defeat by Chelsea, was taken off at 2-1 when United drew with Liverpool in the Premier League, and was replaced by Antony with his side winning 3-0 against Coventry. There is little coincidence that United seem weaker when Garnacho is not on the pitch.


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