Five things we learned from Manchester United's Emirates FA Cup win over Brighton

Saturday 17 Mar 2018
Romelu Lukaku gave Manchester United the lead against Brighton & Hove Albion

Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic dovetailed to send Manchester United through to the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals at the expense of Brighton & Hove Albion.

Striker Lukaku and midfielder Matic notched either side of half-time as United eased past the Seagulls 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday night, securing themselves a trip to Wembley Stadium connected by EE later this month.

Here are five things we learned from the Red Devils’ quarter-final success:

Manchester United 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
  • The Emirates FA Cup
  • Quarter-finals
  • Saturday, March 17 2018
  • Old Trafford
  • By Dan Barnes

Matic matters for United

The hosts’ standout player on the day, Matic was at the heart of the victory that sent United through to the semi-finals.

With his sublime positioning and calming passing ability, the Serbian midfielder controlled proceedings at Old Trafford and helped ensure his team progressed smoothly.

Matic also produced a number of even more obviously telling contributions, delivering the ball that led to Lukaku’s opener before nodding home himself in the second period.

Lukaku’s landmark

In helping home Matic’s inviting first-half cross, United striker Lukaku bagged his 25th goal for the club since his high-profile summer move from Everton.

The 24-year-old Belgian is in a rich vein of form at present, having scored or assisted in each of his last five appearances for the club.

That run includes goals in the Premier League, Champions League and, of course, the Emirates FA Cup.

A repeat of a classic

This was a second Emirates FA Cup meeting between these two sides since the famous two-legged 1983 final.

The Seagulls looked certain to go on to win the world’s original cup competition when Gordon Smith bore down on goal in extra-time with the scores locked at 2-2 but famously shot straight at United goalie Gary Bailey, with the Red Devils going on to win the replay 4-2.

A 2018 reunion provided another opportunity for one of history’s most famous finals to return to the public consciousness, with Brighton also playing in the quarter-finals for the first time in 32 years.

Romero steps in superbly

Sergio Romero has featured four times for United in 2018 – with every appearance coming in the Emirates FA Cup.

The 31-year-old Argentina international was between the sticks when Jose Mourinho’s side took on Derby County, Yeovil Town and Huddersfield Town in previous rounds, and came into the fold to help keep Brighton at bay.

Romero showed no signs of ring rust as he ably deputised for regular number one David de Gea, with an acrobatic save to deny Jurgen Locadia standing out from the fine body of work he produced.

Does history beckon?

With Arsenal, the Emirates FA Cup’s most successful side already out of this year’s competition, United remain in with a shout of moving onto the same perch.

The Gunners have triumphed in the world’s original cup competition 13 times but went out at the hands of Nottingham Forest in the third round in January.

With a semi-final at Wembley on the cards, could Mourinho’s men go all the way in 2018?

By FA Staff