Manchester United sealed a place in the semi-finals of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup for the first time in their history with a hard-earned 3-1 win over Lewes.
Rhian Cleverly’s own goal got United off to the perfect start after just eight minutes but they struggled to extend their advantage against a resolute rearguard effort from the hosts.
Vilda Boe Risa got the second with just over 20 minutes to play, as she nodded home Ona Battle’s cross.
Emily Kraft halved the deficit just five minutes later with a superb curled finish over Mary Earps to set up a tense finish at the Dripping Pan.
But Nikita Parris made sure of United’s place in the final four with a calm finish to slot under Lewes goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse with just a minute to play.
Great work from Nat Johnson down the left allowed her to play a dangerous ball across goal into the path of Kirsty Barton, who was denied by a terrific block from Maria Thorisdottir.
United took the lead just two minutes later, as Alessia Russo latched onto a Battle cross, and her flicked finish was diverted into her own goal by Cleverly.
The visitors began to see the majority of the ball as they looked to extend their lead, but struggled to create any real chances; a pair of Russo shots from the edge of the box the closest they came to troubling Whitehouse.
Lewes continued to threaten despite their hosts’ dominance on the ball, with goalkeeper Mary Earps called into action to deal with a dangerous Amelia Hazard free-kick.
United introduced England international Ella Toone at the break, and the midfielder’s influence was immediate, as she produced an excellent cross for Martha Thomas whose header was well saved by Whitehouse.
If the Barclays Women’s Super League side were to extend their lead, it felt most likely to happen down the right-hand side, with full-back Battle involved in almost everything for the visitors.
The Spaniard was set free down the right by Boe Risa on the hour and delivered a delightful ball into the box but Russo was unable to steer it goalwards.
The second did come just under ten minutes later, this time Battle fed Boe Risa with a perfectly weighted cross and the Norwegian nodded home from close range.
That appeared to have sealed United’s place in the last four, but Lewes pulled one back just five minutes later to keep the cup tie alive.
Excellent pressure from Ellie Mason saw her block Earps’ attempted clearance, and Kraft picked up the loose ball before curling an outstanding effort over the goalkeeper.
Parris should have clinched the tie a minute earlier than she did after dragging her shot wide from Battle’s dinked through ball, before she made amends 60 seconds later with a slotted finish under Whitehouse to wrap up an absorbing cup tie.