Manchester United secured a date in the FA Cup final against Manchester City with a penalty shootout victory over Brighton on Sunday evening.
Victor Lindelof sunk the decisive penalty at Wembley Stadium as United reached a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final. The first 12 spot-kicks of the shootout had been scored before Solly March stepped up.
Despite discovering a prolific streak under Roberto De Zerbi, March ballooned his penalty high into the stands, leaving Lindelof with one more conversion to win the shootout which had descended into sudden death.
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Brighton started the stronger of the two sides in the third FA Cup semi-final of the club’s history, dominating possession with a typically slick – and risky – approach of playing out from the back honed under Roberto De Zerbi this season.
However, the Seagulls struggled to turn their control into chances in the first half. Paraguayan starlet Julio Enciso forced the first save of note from David de Gea shortly after the interval and Solly March was soon rebuffed as well.
Bruno Fernandes offered a similarly blunt riposte for Manchester United but Danny Welbeck squandered the game’s best chance, nodding over from close range against his former employers.
A goalless extra time followed 90 scoreless minutes but Robert Sanchez was belated forced into breaking a sweat. Marcus Rashford, United’s leading scorer who endured a frustrating afternoon, let rip from the edge of the box. The swerving effort was given an extra kick by a deflection but Sanchez managed to stretch out a paw to meet the ball in the 105th minute.
Manchester United have already won the League Cup at Wembley this season, beating Newcastle in the February final and face their city rivals in the FA Cup showpiece. Pep Guardiola’s side are also gunning to become the first team since Manchester United in 1999 to win the treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, giving the Red Devils even more incentive to prevail on Saturday 3 June – though they hardly need any more reason to win.