By Ryan Moran
- FA Cup semi-final review.
- Manchester United defeat Everton in the first semi-final.
- Palace claim victory over Watford to earn a tie with United for the cup.
Crystal Palace and Manchester United booked their places in the FA Cup final with 2-1 victories over Watford and Everton in the weekend’s semi final action.
Martial strikes late to book United’s place in final
Everton 1-2 Manchester United
Anthony Martial’s injury-time strike proved to be the difference as Manchester United reach their 19th FA Cup final.
United took a deserved first half lead through Marouane Fellaini as a poor Everton side were booed off by their own fans at half time. Romelu Lukaku saw his second half penalty saved, low to David De Gea’s right, after Ross Barkley was brought down by Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Chris Smalling turned in Gerard Deulofeu’s low cross only for Martial to win it in stoppage time.
Wayne Rooney denied Lukaku an open goal, heading clear on the line on a day to forget for the Belgian. Phil Jagielka used his arm to prevent Fellaini from scoring at the near post, not seen by the referee.
The two players that earned United a place in the semi-final have secured the Red Devils a shot at winning the competition. Martial’s equaliser forced a replay against West Ham in which Fellaini scored to send them through to the semi-final. Both players were on the scoresheet again as Louis Van Gaal targets his first piece of silverware.
What next for Roberto Martinez? A manager who won the competition a few years ago and got relegated a few days later with Wigan has lost his last chance at silverware. An underachieving season for the Toffees has ended with the Merseyside outfit in the bottom half of the Premier League and now out of all cup competitions. The boos at half time suggests the fans are losing patience with the Spaniard. Only time will tell with the summer a transfer market of free managers looking for a new project and managers receiving their P45s.
Crystal Palace earn a tie with United
Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford
Connor Wickham headed Crystal Palace into the final in their first full season under Alan Pardew.
Yannick Bolasie headed in after Yohan Cabaye’s header was flicked to the Congolese player at the back post. Troy Deeney’s header cancelled out Bolasie’s goal but Wickham ensured Palace would join United in the final with the third header of the game.
As Palace’s league form has taken a tumble, their FA Cup run continued, and will continue after Sunday’s victory. Three years on from beating Watford in the Championship play-off final, the Eagles got the better of the Hornets at Wembley for a second time as Bolasie was an unused substitute three years ago.
Similar to Palace, Watford have struggled in 2016 after a strong start to the season. Three wins have seen them lose pace on what could have been European football in their first season back in the top flight. Captain Deeney capped off a day at Wembley with a goal but himself and Odion Ighalo had little service to be able to make a real impact on one of their biggest outings as a club.
Talk of Quique Sanchez Flores’ sacking is ludicrous after poor league form and now cup departure, the Spaniard has led the club to Premier League survival and should be the man to bring stability to the Hornets and avoid second season syndrome in the top flight. Silverware should be a target for next year with Premier League survival a given for any new top flight team.
The FA Cup final will take place on Saturday 21st May, where either Manchester United or Crystal Palace will be crowned the FA Cup winners 2016.
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