Ten-man Manchester United have won the FA Cup in sensational fashion as Jesse Lingard’s dramatic extra-time winner secured a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Wembley this evening.
There was a controversial moment early on as Crystal Palace’s Connor Wickham put the ball in the net only for referee Mark Clattenburg to bring play back for an earlier foul by Chris Smalling. Anthony Martial then found himself in space inside the Palace box but his effort was knocked away by Joel Ward.
After the break, Marouane Fellaini smashed a close-range effort against the crossbar. Anthony Martial then took his turn to hit the woodwork with a header. Minutes later, Palace’s Damien Delaney was lucky to only receive a yellow card for a late tackle on Marcos Rojo. The Eagles eventually capitalised on the good fortune as substitute Jason Puncheon fired in an effort past David de Gea. But minutes later, United levelled after brilliant work from Wayne Rooney led to the ball falling to Juan Mata, who buried it to force extra-time.
It was a huge lift for United but they were brought right back down to earth when Smalling received a second yellow card for a needless challenge on Yannick Bolasie in the extra period. His side were left on the ropes but, in typical United style, they secured an incredible victory as Lingard’s sweet strike nestled into the corner to secure silverware.
If this is to be Louis van Gaal’s last game as United manager, he couldn’t have picked a more entertaining, dramatic and downright sensational clash to bow out on.
This game had everything: ferocity, class and an extra dose of drama. The win came through Lingard, who fired home when United looked up against in a man down. Sensational, utterly sensational. And United have a trophy to show for it and the end of it all. Forget this awful season, forget everything. This is what United are all about. An unforgettable evening at Wembley. The start of something special?
I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that Lingard is better than Lionel Messi.
He couldn’t have dreamt for a better ending to a crazy evening at Wembley. Minutes to go, with the game in the balance, he swept home an unbelievable winner to win the Cup. And for supporters, seeing an academy graduate win it for their side is the stuff of dreams. Give. That. Man. A. Knighthood.
Fellaini was reinstated to the starting XI following suspension but he had a mixed afternoon, particularly when it came to his finishing.
First of all, the Belgian failed to connect properly with a header in the first period. Early on in the second, he hit the crossbar. You could say that he was unlucky, but at this level and on this stage, you really need to put those sort of chances away.
The Palace defender’s wild, out-of-control tackle on Rojo was awful and Delaney was very, very lucky to only escape with a yellow.
However, referee Clattenburg also made a couple of clangers that favoured United, as he was a bit too hasty to stop play for fouls by Smalling and Rojo. It’s safe to say he didn’t have the best of afternoons.
Mata has been accused of disappearing in games in recent months and that was certainly the case at Wembley. In fact, van Gaal was close to taking the Spaniard off.
But Mata’s goals and assists record for United this year has been superb and, seconds before the proposed change, he was there to bag the crucial equaliser after Rooney’s cross late in the second half. It proved to be the last decisive contribution for Mata as he was brought off but he can be mightily pleased with the part he played in what was a massive, massive win for the club.