Manchester United have survived one of the most astonishing FA Cup semi-final comebacks to beat second-tier Coventry City 4-2 on penalties after a chaotic clash ended 3-3 following extra time at Wembley Stadium.

United were cruising to a record 22nd FA Cup final and a repeat clash with Manchester City thanks to goals by Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes with Coventry barely laying a glove on their opponents for 70 minutes.

But Coventry, playing in their first FA Cup semi-final since they won the Cup for the only time in 1987, were not about to go down without a fight.

Goals by Ellis Simms and Callum O’Hare gave them hope and with United rocking, Haji Wright stroked home a stoppage-time penalty after a Aaron Wan-Bissaka handball.

Both sides hit the woodwork in a nerve-shredding extra 30 minutes – Fernandes with a curler for United and Simms for Coventry, his angled effort bouncing down off the underside of the crossbar with minutes left.

Coventry’s 36,000 fans were then sent into delirium when substitute Victor Torp poked home with almost the last kick of the game but what would have been a deserved winner was disallowed for a slender offside after a VAR check.

Casemiro missed the opening spot kick for United in the shoot-out but Onana saved O’Hare’s kick and Ben Sheaf fired his effort over the crossbar to leave Rasmus Hojlund with the job of sending United through and he coolly sent his effort past Coventry keeper Bradley Collins.

United celebrated but they know they came within a whisker of calamity and Sunday’s performance will heap further scrutiny on manager Erik ten Hag.

Manchester United's Rasmus Hojlund (left) and goalkeeper Andre Onana celebrate at the end of the Emirates FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday April 21, 2024. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund and goalkeeper Andre Onana celebrate. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

United will now face neighbours City in the showpiece final on May 25 – the first time the same two clubs have contested the FA Cup final in consecutive years since 1885.

“It was an incredible game, a strange game too,” Ten Hag told ITV. “We had total control for so long and then gave it away in the last part of the game. We did show resilience to win the penalty shootout.”

They will have to improve dramatically, however, if they are to avenge last season’s loss and win the Cup for a 13th time.

“We have to improve,” he added. “We talk a lot about this. First you have to put yourself in a winning position but then you have to take it over the line.”

While United’s erratic display typified their season, Coventry showed huge character having looked down and out when Fernandes made it 3-0, throwing caution to the wind to stun Ten Hag’s fragile side.

“It’s mixed feelings,” Onana, said. “We went through, that’s why we came here. It was tough in the end. We were in control but after so many individual mistakes we conceded three goals.

“Somehow we lost control of the game.”

Coventry, managed by former United Cup winner Mark Robins, were the better side in extra time and the superb Simms was desperately unlucky to be denied by the woodwork.

And when Torp tapped in, it seemed the unthinkable had happened but Wright was adjudged to have been fractionally offside.

“We deserved to go through, we were 20 seconds away and a toenail offside, it’s ridiculous,” Robins said before describing the loss as a “kick in the teeth”.

 “We’ve just said to them they’ve put themselves right up there in the history of the football club. People will talk about this game for a long time.”

Meanwhile, on a good day for the Merseyside clubs Liverpool have gone level on points with Premier League leaders Arsenal while Everton won the “deduction derby” against Nottingham Forest.

Forest, who felt a series of decisions went against them, subsequently suggested the Video Assistant referee (VAR) was biased as he supported a third club in the relegation battle, Luton Town.

There also wins for fourth-placed Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, who hit five against West Ham. 

Three days after bowing out of the Europa League and one week after a damaging home league defeat by  Palace, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool got back on track. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s opener was cancelled out by Timothy Castagne before Ryan Gravenberch’s first league goal for the Reds and Diogo Jota’s effort lifted them one point above Manchester City, who have a game in hand. 

Everton took a huge step towards Premier League safety as long-range efforts from Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil in either half secured a 2-0 home win against Forest. 

The Toffees climbed five points clear of the bottom three and have a game in hand on most strugglers, while Forest stay one point above the drop zone. 

Forest were furious after referee Anthony Taylor and VAR ignored three penalty appeals at Goodison Park – all against Ashley Young – and issued a statement on social media after the game criticising those decisions. 

The club said they had “warned” the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) that “the VAR is a Luton fan but they didn’t change him”.

“Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept,” the club said.

“Our patience has been tested multiple times.”

Everton substitute Beto left the field on a stretcher after a clash of heads late in the match and was taken to hospital, with his club later confirming he had been knocked unconscious. 

Aston Villa maintained their challenge for a Champions League place by coming from behind to beat Bournemouth 3-1 at Villa Park. 

Dominic Solanke converted his 18th league goal of the season from the penalty spot but Villa hit back through Morgan Rogers on the stroke of half-time. Further goals from Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey took them six points above fifth-placed Tottenham, who have two games in hand. 

West Ham completed a miserable week by being hammered 5-2 at London rivals Crystal Palace. 

The Hammers, knocked out of the Europa League by Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, were 4-0 down at Selhurst Park after 31 minutes. 

Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, Emerson Palmieri’s own goal and Jean-Philippe Mateta put Palace in total control before Michail Antonio reduced the deficit before the break. 

Dominant Palace struck again through Mateta’s second and Tyrick Mitchell’s late own goal was scant consolation.

with AAP





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