Manchester United’s hopes of capturing silverware this season are alive and well, as they managed to defeat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 tonight at Old Trafford in their FA Cup quarter-final. Jose Mourinho’s side will now move into the semi-final draw alongside Tottenham, with either Wigan Athletic/Southampton and Leicester City/Chelsea being set to join them on the road to the final.
Given that their Premier League and Champions League aspirations have been dashed, the importance of this victory can’t be overstated. It’s clear to see from anyone’s perspective that Mourinho has been cracking under the pressure as of late, and although their situation isn’t quite as extreme as Arsene Wenger’s, a trip to Wembley will certainly be a welcome sight for supporters who have been turning against the Portuguese boss in recent weeks.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford was relatively poor from the first whistle, which is hardly surprising given that they were knocked out of Europe by Sevilla earlier in the week. Still, there was a job to be done and they were coming up against one of the surprise packages of the season in the Seagulls. Thankfully, the weight of the occasion didn’t seem to play on United’s mind all too much throughout the course of the first half.
While it wasn’t the most enthralling game in the world they did what they had to do in order to neutralise Brighton’s momentum, and eventually, the home side found the breakthrough as Nemanja Matic’s corner was nodded in by the often criticised Romelu Lukaku. They managed to ride out the first half with relative ease, although from that point onwards, it quickly became obvious that seeing the game out wasn’t going to be a simple task.
Weathering the storm
Following the first 45 minutes, Chris Hughton came firing out of the blocks and had several chances to put pressure on the hosts. They seemed to grow in confidence despite the minutes ticking away as if they were playing with nothing to lose now that they’re in a comfortable position in the Premier League. Locadia, in particular, will feel like he should’ve done better with his three or four key efforts which were either wasted or well saved by Romero.
Despite that, United were able to send their fans home happy as Matic went from being a provider to a goalscorer after heading in Ashley Young’s cross at the far post. The two goals served as United’s only two major chances of the game, and while that is an extremely worrying statistic, getting back in the win column will be all that Mourinho cares about ahead of the international break.
Manchester United are a shadow of the team they were just a few years ago, and as such, these kind of performances are to be expected. At the very least they’ve been able to grind out wins over the course of the season, and while they aren’t exactly blowing anyone away, there are still plenty of positives which they can build on heading into the latter stages of this tournament.
The Red Devils will now have two weeks off as many squad members head away on international duty, and when they return, they’ll host Swansea City in the Premier League.
Manchester United: Romero (7.5); Valencia (5.5), Bailly (6), Smalling (6), Shaw (6.5) (Young (6.5), 45′); McTominay (5.5), Matic (8.5); Mata (5) (Rashford (6), 75′), Lingard (5) (Fellaini (N/A), 89′), Martial (6); Lukaku (6.5)
Brighton: Krul (6); Schelotto (6), Duffy (6), Dunk (6.5), Suttner (6); Gross (7), Propper (5.5), Kayal (5); March (6) (Izquierdo (6.5), 68′), Ulloa (5.5) (Murray (6), 76′), Locadia (6)
Goals: Lukaku (37′), Matic (83′)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
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