Home » Match report: Manchester United 3-2 Brighton and Hove Albion

Match report: Manchester United 3-2 Brighton and Hove Albion

by Zoe Hodges

Manchester United have beaten Brighton 3-2 in a thrilling contest to reach the final of the FA Cup.

The atmosphere before the match was electric with the fans singing “we’re going to Wembley”.

The Reds looked like they were feeling the nerves early on though as casual tracking back led Brighton to put a cross into the danger zone but luckily for the Reds there was no one to get on the end of it.

United dominated possession in the opening ten minutes but in the middle of the pitch.

The first shot came for Toone as a Katie Zelem cross was headed back into her path by a Brighton player but her shot flew over the bar.

At the other end United were caught out at the back but luckily Le Tissier recovered well to turn it behind for a corner.

Earps rose well to punch it away, unleashing Toone to counter, but she didn’t see the run of Lessi and stopped, choosing to slow the game down.

Fifteen minutes in and the fans were already feeling frustrated. Lucia Garcia made a good run, winning the ball back but instead of shooting she squared into the path of Toone who had stopped her run.

A good attack for the Reds with a good cross from Batlle ended in a counter for Brighton. There was work to do for United’s defence as they had to get a sprint on but Turner was there with a strong foot to block.

This was an open game and the Reds were not having it all their own way.

Russo had a great chance as Toone had fought her way out of the corner, played it to Blundell who delivered it in the box. Russo hooked it and forced the keeper into a brilliant save to tip it behind.

Then came a chance for Galton who headed it goalwards, the keeper fumbled it and it went behind for a corner.

United were knocking at the door.

But against the run of play Brighton took the lead, Earps’ hand was not strong enough to keep it out and it was put down as an own goal.

It was an uphill battle now, it wasn’t fair, United had dominated possession but that was football.

The Reds tried to fight back instantly, Garcia, who had been the brightest spark for United, danced her way into the box through multiple defenders but her shot was an easy catch for the Seagulls keeper.

Within seconds of the restart, United levelled, Batlle made a good run on the right and cut it back to Galton, who turned it in.

Pressure mounted from United as Galton won the ball back in the final third, and took it to the byline and cut it back. It found Toone whose shot was just wide.

They must have had a rocket at half time because they were a new team now!

The link up play was much better and they had an intensity about them.

But at the other end, space opened up for Brighton and they got a powerful shot off which was fabulously saved by Earps. The resulting corner was well defended.

The Reds had further opportunities to push forward but they couldn’t break down the Seagulls’ defence.

Zelem was working much harder this half and won the ball back on a few occasions. In the lead up to United’s second goal it was Zelem who won it back, it was a well worked team goal but it was Russo who smashed it into the top corner.

But Brighton weren’t out of this just yet and against the run of play again they scored, 2-2.

Now the momentum was with the visitors and they had another chance but Earps made another good save to deny them taking the lead.

Williams fought for every ball and won most of her duels after coming on, she won a ball on the sidelines which looked impossible and darted into the box, she cut it back and Ladd took a shot but it was caught by the keeper.

It was a feisty match, the players were getting frustrated, so were the fans.

United had a number of attempts to get it in the box and it looked like Brighton handballed it in the penalty area but no penalty was given.

A Brighton player was down injured but Brighton continued to attack, when United won it back they were shouting for them to put it out but Williams found herself one on one with the keeper. There was only one way this was going out of play and that was in the back of the net! 3-2 United with four minutes to play.

It was time for some game management and United needed to keep their heads too!

When they final whistle went there was an audible sigh of relief followed by chants of “we’re going to Wembley”. The team gathered on the pitch with a flag which read “We’re the famous Man United and we’re going to Wembley.”

What a game, they did it the hard way but it was worth the elation!

Team: Earps, Batlle, Blundell, Toone, Zelem, Galton (Mannion 91), Ladd, Le Tissier, Garcia (Thomas 60), Turner, Russo (Williams 78)

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