A goal each by Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic was enough as a subdued Manchester United edged Brighton 2-0 to qualify for the FA Cup semi-finals in a late kick off at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The victory enabled the Red Devils to reach the last four in this competition for only their second time in seven seasons following their dramatic finale in the 2016 campaign. In this match, United manager Jose Mourinho made five changes to the side that lost to Sevilla in Tuesday’s Champions League clash.
Sergio Romero was brought in for the superb David De Gea in goal while Scott McTominay replaced Marouane Fellaini at the heart of midfield. After a few half chances from both sides, Lukaku powered home the opener in the 37th minute from a lovely cross by Matic who was poised on the left flank. The Serbian international swung in a superb first time cross from Luke Shaw’s set up for the finish.
Frustration at Old Trafford
There were signs of frustration and batches of empty seats seen at Old Trafford seemingly because of United’s lack of precision going forward. With the clock winding down, the possibility of a Brighton comeback to mirror Sevilla’s triumph seemed like a possibility as Romero was kept busy time and again.
However, substitute Ashley Young produced a sublime free kick to give the hosts some much needed breathing space. In the 82nd minute, Young delivered the ball into the box for Matic to head home from close range after shrugging off his marker. This 2-0 score line sent a wave of relief around Old Trafford.
Mourinho made the bold move of dropping Alexis Sanchez from the starting 11 and leaving Paul Pogba on the bench for this encounter. Although this paid off, there were still clear signs of a side that remains overshadowed by lack of intensity and purpose when switching the gears to offence.
Mourinho’s side joins Tottenham Hotspurs in the last four after they earlier picked apart Swansea City in their match at Liberty Stadium.