United hold off stirring Coventry comeback to book place in Emirates FA Cup Final

Sunday 21 Apr 2024
Rasmus Hojlund celebrates his winning penalty in the semi-final

Manchester United narrowly withstood one of the greatest Emirates FA Cup comebacks of all-time to beat Coventry City on penalties in a thriller for the ages at Wembley.

Mark Robins’ Championship side were trailing 3-0 heading into the final half an hour after Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had fired Erik ten Hag’s Premier League side into a seemingly unassailable advantage.

But Ellis Simms, Callum O’Hare and Haji Wright all netted in the space of 25 chaotic second-half minutes to cap a stirring late fightback and send the game to extra-time.

Emirates FA Cup
  • Semi-Final
  • Coventry City vs Manchester United
  • Sunday 21 April
Sky Blues thought they had dramatically snatched it during the dying stages of the additional half an hour when Victor Torp steered in from Wright’s low cross.

But after a lengthy VAR check, the American striker was adjudged to have been marginally offside to send the heart-thumping clash to penalties.

And after O’Hare and Ben Sheaf both failed to score from the spot, Rasmus Hojland kept his cool to send Coventry goalkeeper Bradley Collins the wrong way, dash the battling Sky Blues' hopes and set up a mouth-watering derby day repeat of last season’s final against Manchester City next month.

United dominated the opening period and should have been ahead after both Alejandro Garnacho and Marcus Rashford went close.

But Coventry, spearheaded by Wright and Simms leading the line, always posed a threat on the counter-attack and were relentlessly roared on by a raucous 35,000-plus contingent behind their goal.

United continued to pile the pressure on and eventually seized the lead on 23 minutes.

Diogo Dalot crossed low towards the back post and after Collins was unable to divert the danger, McTominay pounded to propel the 12-time winners into the lead.

Coventry rallied and came close to grabbing a leveller when Dalot made a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Simms with United goalkeeper Andre Onana beaten.

But the Red Devils doubled their advantage just before the break when Maguire rose highest in the box to emphatically head home.

Fernandes’ corner was perfectly-placed for the England centre-back and he powered a header past a helpless Collins to leave Sky Blues with a mountain to climb at the interval.

Coventry knew they had considerable work to do after the break and that got even tougher when Fernandes fired Ten Hag’s three in front just before the hour mark.

The United captain rifled into the near post via a slight Bobby Thomas deflection to seemingly all-but seal the top-flight side’s return to the capital next month.

But Coventry responded and roared into life when Simms expertly steered home from Fabio Taveres’ cross to give the underdogs a glimmer of hope.

And that intensified even further under 10 minutes later when O’Hare’s long-range effort took a wicked deflection off Aaron Wan-Bissaka to completely wrong-foot Onana and send the Sky Blues fans into raptures.

Coventry had all the momentum and were all over Ten Hag’s struggling United as the clock continued to tick.

Torp unleased a thunderbolt of a volley from outside the box but Onana was on hand to thwart the Danish midfielder’s effort.

But they did net a dramatic, deserved equaliser after Wan-Bissaka handled in the box and referee Rob Jones pointed straight to the spot.

Wright stepped up for the pressure penalty and kept his cool when it mattered to send Onana the wrong way and trigger stoppage-time ecstasy in front of jubilant Sky Blues supporters.

Robins’ side even looked the more likely to net a winner but United – just about – held firm to take the game to extra-time.

United were just inches away from regaining their lead in the first half of extra-time when Fernandes’ first-time effort clattered the crossbar.

But Coventry had the best chances to win it during the added half an hour when Wright was sent clear but dragged his effort wide of Onana’s far post.

And just moments later, strike partner Simms swivelled brilliantly in the box before unleashing a powerful effort that cannoned into the same crossbar Fernandes had struck 20 minutes earlier.  

Coventry thought they had won it when Torp poked home from Wright’s low cross to send the blue end of Wembley into raptures.

But the dangerous striker appeared to be just offside in the build-up as the thrilling clash then went to penalties.

Casemiro saw his effort saved by Collins to give Coventry the initial advantage in the shoot-out.

But after Onana saved from O'Hare and Sheaf fired over, Hojlund kept his cool to inflict a cruel defeat on Coventry and set up a repeat of last season's Emirates FA Cup Final against holders and local rivals Manchester City.

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By FA Staff