Manchester United beat Brighton & Hove Albion on penalties to reach FA Cup Final

Sunday 23 Apr 2023

Victor Lindelof struck the winning penalty as Manchester United booked their place in the Emirates FA Cup Final with a nerve-jangling win against Brighton & Hove Albion at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.

Nothing could separate the two Premier League sides during 120 minutes of goalless helter-skelter action and after both teams slotted six perfect spot-kicks, Solly March’s miss opened the door for Swedish defender Lindelof to fire home and send United back to London for a date with rivals Manchester City on June 3.

Kaoru Mitoma proved Brighton’s biggest threat throughout a cagey opening period as Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Christian Eriksen all went close for Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United

Emirates FA Cup semi-final
Sunday 23 April 2023
Wembley Stadium connected by EE

Both sides had chances to clinch the clash during the second half before March, Marcus Rashford and Casemiro missed opportunities in extra-time.

That teed up a rain-soaked penalty shoot-out and despite both teams showing nerves of steel from the spot, March rifled over, allowing Lindelof to then dash Brighton’s hopes of a first Emirates FA Cup Final for 40 years and propel United back to the capital in two months’ time.

Rashford and Fernandes both started for United as Ten Hag made three changes to the side that were knocked out of the Europa League in a 3-0 defeat at Sevilla in midweek.

And for Brighton, boss Roberto De Zerbi made two tweaks to his team as former United striker Danny Welbeck led the line in the absence of highly-rated Irish teenager Evan Ferguson.

The Seagulls started the game strongly and almost took the lead when Alexis Mac Allister’s free-kick was well-saved by David de Gea in the United goal.

And at the other end, Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez was called into action to thwart Fernandes’ curling effort from the edge of the box.

Japanese star Mitoma, who netted a dramatic late winner against Liverpool in the fourth round of the competition, proved a constant threat down the left and was unable to find a teammate after embarking on one of his trademark runs to the byline.

United ended the first half brightly and came close to seizing the lead through Fernandes, Martial and Eriksen – but the contest remained level at the break after a largely stop-start opening period.

In-form United winger Antony looked lively after the break and, mirroring Mitoma’s exploits in the first half, failed to find a red shirt after an enterprising run down the right.

But Brighton were still the team bossing possession as De Zerbi’s side continued to make life difficult for Ten Hag’s Carabao Cup champions.

And they should have grabbed the lead just before the hour mark when De Gea made a brilliant save to deny Julio Enciso and Welbeck then headed over from the subsequent corner.

United enjoyed a promising period throughout the second half but once again, it was Brighton who came closest to netting a decisive opener during the final ten minutes.

March cut in from the right but his low shot was palmed away by De Gea at the near post.

Substitute Jadon Sancho also went close for United but neither team could find a breakthrough as extra-time beckoned under the arch.

Brighton substitute Deniz Undav was unable to capitalise on a good chance in the United box before Marcel Sabitzer, who struck the Red Devils’ crucial second in their quarter-final triumph over Fulham at Old Trafford, looped a header wide.

And Sanchez then brilliantly parried Rashford’s goal-bound strike to keep Brighton level heading into the extra-time interval.

De Gea saved from March just after the break and as the compelling encounter became increasingly end-to-end, Rashford rifled just wide from the edge of the box.

Casemiro and March both had late chances but neither side could break the deadlock as a penalty shoot-out loomed.

Both teams slotted six perfect spot-kicks each but after March’s costly miss, Lindelof stepped up to trigger wild scenes in the red end of Wembley and keep United’s hopes of a 13th Emirates FA Cup triumph alive.

By Will Jennings