Manchester United triumphed over Brighton in a nail-biting penalty shootout on Sunday evening, booking their place in the FA Cup final against cross-town rivals Manchester City. Victor Lindelof became the hero of the night by scoring the decisive penalty, allowing United to reach a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final.
Brighton began the match strongly, dominating possession with their slick approach under manager Roberto De Zerbi. However, they struggled to capitalize on their control, failing to convert any significant chances in the first half. Manchester United also had their share of opportunities, but the game’s best chance fell to former United player Danny Welbeck, who missed a close-range header.
As both teams failed to score in regulation and extra time, the match proceeded to a penalty shootout. United goalkeeper David de Gea, who had a challenging time against Sevilla, redeemed himself by making crucial saves during the match. After six successful penalties each, Solly March missed Brighton’s seventh kick, leaving Lindelof to score the match-winning penalty.
United’s victory sets up an all-Manchester FA Cup final against Manchester City on June 3, giving them a chance to stop City from completing the treble – a feat achieved only once in England by Manchester United in 1999. United has already won the League Cup at Wembley this season, defeating Newcastle in the February final.
Despite being the better team for significant portions of the match, Brighton’s midfield duo of Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo couldn’t break through United’s defense. The impressive growth of Brighton under De Zerbi has been remarkable, and if they continue to progress, more opportunities for success are likely to come their way.
United manager Erik ten Hag was pleased with his team’s response after their disappointing Europa League exit against Sevilla. Showcasing determination and resilience, United’s mental toughness carried them through the penalty shootout, which had been a weakness in previous encounters.
Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford also deserve praise for stepping up during the penalty shootout, both having missed in England’s defeat to Italy in the European Championship final nearly two years ago. The FA Cup final appearance and the fight for a place in the top four will give United plenty to play for in the coming weeks.