What the papers say
- Manager believes Martial was ‘conned’ into red card in October
- Solskjær says Cavani is unsure over United future
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has told Manchester United’s players to keep cool heads when they play Tottenham on Sunday as they look to avenge a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of José Mourinho’s side.
Anthony Martial was sent off in the 28th minute in the humiliating October defeat at Old Trafford after retaliating to an elbow from Érik Lamela with a push in the Argentinian’s face. Solskjær says Martial was “conned” into reacting and he does not want to see a repeat in London as they look to put a club record-equalling defeat in the Premier League era firmly behind them.Continue reading...
Tottenham and Everton both need a result while Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa may serve up another feast of football
When the dust settles on José Mourinho’s Tottenham tenure - and that could be one day soon - 4 October’s 6-1 win at Manchester United will probably be a high watermark. It happened on a day when the Premier League took on a demented quality. That Sunday also featured Liverpool’s 7-2 loss to Aston Villa. Six months on, Spurs announcing themselves as title contenders feels like a dim, surreal memory. United have since regrouped and victory in north London would further frank their passport into next season’s Champions League. Meanwhile, Spurs continue to scrap on the peripheries of the top four with their manager running his playbook of running battles with his own players. “Same coach, different players,” was his explanation at Newcastle for yet another concession of a late goal, also suggesting his team “create instability to ourselves”. Back in October at Old Trafford, he was “very happy with the squad that I have”. JB
Tottenham v Manchester United (Sunday, 4.30 pm, all times BST)
Manchester City v Leeds (Saturday, 12.30pm)
West Ham v Leicester (Sunday, 2.05pm)
Fulham v Wolves (Friday, 8pm)
Liverpool v Aston Villa (Saturday, 3pm)
Sheffield United v Arsenal (Sunday, 7pm)
Crystal Palace v Chelsea (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Burnley v Newcastle (Sunday, 12pm)
West Brom v Southampton (Monday, 6pm)
Brighton v Everton (Monday, 8.15pm)Continue reading...
- Maguire, Shaw and McTominay all to miss home second leg
- ‘Not a perfect night’, says manager after win in Europa League
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was delighted at Manchester United’s 2-0 Europa League quarter-final first leg win over Granada, though admitted it was not a “perfect night” as Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay were all booked and will miss next week’s return game at Old Trafford through suspension.Continue reading...
Goals from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes put Manchester United in control of their quarter-final at the half-way stage
Sid Lowe has filed his match report, which is my cue to head off. Thanks for your company - goodnight!
Peep peep! That’s a very good night’s work for Manchester United. The game was rubbish, in truth, but United can live with that after such a favourable result. Marcus Rashford scored a classy goal in the first half and Bruno Fernandes added another penalty in the last minute. Granada struggled to lay a glove on United: their only shots on target long-range efforts from Kenedy. United didn’t have many attempts either, but they made theirs count.
90+3 min That second goal makes a big difference to the second leg. It means Solskjaer should - should - be able to start with Fernandes and Rashford on the bench, which is important as they are both in need of a rest.
Fernandes clipped it towards the bottom-left corner. Silva went the right way and got hands on it, but the ball slithered through his hands. That’s a very rare example of a goalkeeping error at a penalty.
Bruno Fernandes scores - just!
89 min: PENALTY TO UNITED! Brice has been penalised for fouling Fernandes off the ball. Everyone was waiting for a Telles cross, and Fernandes went over after a shove to the face by Brice. It looks a bit soft but it was also stupid from Brice, and it’s not going to be overturned by VAR.
88 min If it stays like this it will be Manchester United’s 11th clean sheet in the last 17 games. They’ve needed them, as the goals have dried up a wee bit, 9-0 victories notwithstanding.
86 min And Granada have brought on Luis Suarez (no, stop it) and Yan Brice for Gonalons and Soldado.
85 min Donny van de Beek has come on to replace Mason Greenwood.
84 min Matic is booked for leading with the arm and brushing the face of Puertas.
83 min: Good save from Silva! James did really well, dummying to shoot before reversing a pass to Fernandes. His shot from close range was smothered by Silva. Actually, scratch all that: replays showed Fernandes was offside, so it wouldn’t have counted.
81 min Mathis’s long-range shot deflects behind for a corner. There have only been four shots on target in the whole game: three from Kenedy and the goal from Rashford.
79 min United waste a couple of minutes by passing the ball around in defence and midfield. It’s been a really slow game, the antonym of that deranged thriller between Bayern and PSG last night.
75 min And two more changes for Granada: Dimitri Foulquier and the talented Venezuelan Darwin Machis replace Kenedy and Neva
74 min Another change for United: Pogba off, Matic on. Pogba had a 6.5/10 kind of game.
73 min James surges promisingly down the left but then overhits his cross.
73 min “They may be plucky underdogs, but Granada are a cynical disgrace,” says Duncan Edwards. “I’ve counted at least three times them complaining to the ref about nonexistent elbowing.”
Some of their tackling has been surprisingly brusque as well. They’ve clearly decided the English don’t like it up ’em.
72 min: Harry Maguire is out of the second leg as well - he’s been booked for a foul on Soldado. That means United will be without Shaw, Maguire and McTominay next week.
70 min Herrera breaks forward dangerously but slightly overhits his pass to Neva, whose cross deflects behind off Lindelof. Had the pass been softer, Neva would have been able to shoot first time.
70 min “That Bergkamp goal against Argentina was all well and good,” says Ian Copestake, “but talk about a one-footed player!”
69 min Herrera shoots over from the edge of the area.
69 min Granada had a good spell either side of half-time. Since then, however, United have kept them at arm’s length. You never really know in the peculiar world of behind-closed-doors football, but you’d think Granada need at least a draw tonight if they are to have a serious chance of going through next week.
68 min “Watching football without fans in the ground is kind of like an Imitation of Life, wouldn’t you say?” says Peter Oh. “I’d go as far as saying that I’ve been Losing My Religion.”
67 min For the third time tonight, a sweet long-range strike from Kenedy is too close to de Gea. He has been lively though.
66 min Talking of Spurs, Roberto Soldado has a speculative pop from 25 yards. Goal kick to Manchester United.
65 min Another Manchester United change: Edinson Cavani replaces the goalscorer Marcus Rashford, who is presumably being protected with Sunday’s revenge mission at Spurs in mind.
64 min “I’ve a friend who, how can I say it nicely, really does not want to like Rashford,” says Hiruy Gulilat. “This just makes me a defender of Rashford, without pay! And that control before the goal is not making it easy for him.”
63 min I shan’t tell you what’s happening in the other quarter-finals in case you plan to watch any games on delay. But if you want to know the latest scores, this link is your friend.
62 min Fernandes’s corner is headed over by Pogba at the far post. There were plenty of bodies around, but it still looked like a decent chance.
60 min Maguire sells himself near the halfway line and is beaten by Herrera. Granada have a two-on-two attack as a result but Lindelof’s positioning is excellent and he blocks Herrera’s pass towards Soldado.
58 min Maguire rumbles forward from the halfway line, beats Gonalons with some extravagant sleight of hip and rifles a long-range shot not far wide. He really should do that more often.
58 min We’re all friends here, so let us speak frankly: so far, this has been a dog of a game.
54 min Fernandes’s deep free-kick hits the head of Maguire at the far post and ricochets to safety. I’m pretty sure Maguire was unsighted, as otherwise it would have been a decent chance.
54 min Duarte’s night is over. He limps off, German runs on to replace him.
53 min Duarte is going to try to continue, though he’s limping heavily.
51 min Domingos Duarte boots James up in the air - and injures himself in the process. I don’t think he’s going to be able to continue. Either way, he won’t be playing next week: he was booked for that agricultural hack at James, his third yellow card of the tournament.
50 min The next corner is headed away by McTominay, but only as far as Kenedy on the left edge of the box. He whistles a good shot towards goal, but it’s too close to de Gea.
49 min Granada have won five or six corners either side of half-time. Make that six or seven, with Montoro’s near-post corner headed behind for another by Pogba...
47 min United have switched their front players: James to the left, Rashford central, Greenwood on the right.
46 min Peep peep! Granada begin the second half.
United have made a half-time substitution - Alex Telles is on for Luke Shaw.
That goal was Rashford’s 20th of the season, to go with 22 in 2019-20. Those are really decent numbers for a wide forward in a team that are good but not great.
“Putting aside magnificent art-pop for a second, Rashford’s first touch for the goal was absolutely filthy, and shouldn’t be shown without some kind of warning message,” says Matt Dony. “It was pre-watershed!”
If that’s an excuse to link to something I wrote ten years ago, then I don’t know what is!
“Hi Rob,” says David Wall. “What is the weather like in Spain this evening? I imagine it’s noticeably warmer than it has been in Manchester over the past week so it’ll be important for United’s players to replenish their Electrolyte levels at half time. If not then there’s a risk of a couple of Daysleepers in the defence as they’ll tire later in the game. With them having the lead in the away leg of the tie will Solskjaer be asking for more Drive in the second half, or will be an Apologist for taking a more defensive approach?”
I hope you’re proud of yourself, Matt Dony.
Peep peep! Mason Greenwood had half a chance to double the lead just before the break, but tried one stepover too many and was dispossessed. As it is, Marcus Rashford’s expertly taken goal has put United in control of the tie. It was a forgettable half, very sluggish, though Granada started to attack with more aggression after going behind. See you soon for the second half.
45 min This is Granada’s best spell. They’ve been quite aggressive at times, particularly with Rashford and Fernandes, and I suspect we’ll see more of that after half-time.
44 min A nice corner routine from Granada. Montoro clips it outside the area to Kenedy, who cuts across a sweet volley that is comfortably saved by de Gea. It was straight at him, but a really good strike.
43 min “R.E.M. songs, is it, Martyn Crooks?” says Matt Dony. “United a goal up and looking to go through to the Great Beyond of the semi-finals. Granada have got players who could make a difference, though, if they tune themselves in. What’s The Frequency, Kenedy?”
42 min Luke Shaw is also out of the second leg: he has been booked for fouling Puertas.
41 min Montoro angle sthe resulting free-kick towards Herrera, whose volleyed cross hits the outside of the post! De Gea had it covered, I think, although the movement of his hands wasn’t entirely convincing. Moments later, Soldado drags a half chance wide of the near post.
40 min McTominay is booked for a foul on Puertas. That means he’ll miss the second leg.
39 min United have had 71 per cent of the possession. Rashford’s goal is the only shot on target at either end.
38 min A nice move from Granada ends with Dias flashing an excellent ball across the six-yard box.
35 min Fernandes’s long-range shot deflects behind for a corner. Nothing comes of it. The game has been a stinker, in truth, but United won’t care now they have taken the lead.
33 min Rashford’s angled run and finish were good, but the key to the goal was that velvety first touch.
32 min Herrera’s cross-shot almost falls kindly for Soldado, who is unable to sort his feet out at very short notice.
Ah, it was an exceedingly simple goal. Lindelof drove a 60-yard pass over the defence to Rashford, who killed the dropping ball majestically and slid it past Silva from 10 yards.
Marcus Rashford scores, and I’ve no idea what happened because they were showing a replay of the Soldado shot!
30 min Puertas gets to the byline and stabs the ball across to Soldado, who shoots into the side netting from a very tight angle. He had no chance of scoring from there.
28 min At the other end, Kenedy hammers a bouncing ball over the bar from a very tight angle.
27 min McTominay, the only man playing with much urgency, clips an excellent pass over the defence to find Rashford on the left of the area. He plays the ball back to Fernandes, whose outside-of-the-foot strike is blocked. Rashford picks up the loose ball and tries a big curling shot towards the far corner. He gets too much on it.
25 min Herrera goes down holding his face after a challenge with McTominay in the centre circle. McTominay did slap him, though I’m 99.9 per cent sure it was accidental. The referee agrees.
23 min Granada are very well organised defensively, and so far United haven’t threatened to open them up.
19 min Rashford wallops the free-kick over the bar. On the plus side, he doesn’t seem to be feeling his ankle any more.
18 min Fernandes is fouled 28 yards from goal by Herrera. The free-kick is a fair way to the left of centre, but Rashford looks like he wants to have a shot.
17 min Nothing is happening. The game is now taking place almost exclusively in Granada’s half, but not so much in their third.
14 min United are starting to have more of the ball, though it’s all fairly slow and safe for now. Granada look happy to play on the counter-attack.
11 min Rashford is still on the field. It’s hard to know whether he’s okay, as he’s had no reason to break into a sprint since that blocked shot in the fifth minute.
9 min Yes, it is the same Kenedy of Chelsea/Newcastle/Watford/Fluminense fame.
8 min Pogba loses the ball to Kenedy in a dangerous area, then brings him down and is booked. United, as is their wont, have started quite sluggishly.
7 min Rashford, who was a doubt for this game, looks like he’s struggling a little.
6 min The game is stopped for a few seconds because of a streaker. He looked very pleased with himself as he charged naked across the field.
5 min United break through Pogba, who plays a fine long pass out to Rashford out on the left. He cuts inside and has a shot blocked.
4 min It’s been a lively start from Granada, with most of the early exchanges taking place in the United half.
2 min “Predictions Rob?” says John Ryan. “I see United getting three, at least...”
I’m going for 2-1 Granada.
1 min Peep peep! United, wearing their Joy Division tribute kit, kick off from left to right. Granada are in their red and white home strip.
The players stroll onto the field. It’s a crisp night in southern Spain, and the only shame is that there aren’t 19,000 supporters here for the biggest game in Granada’s history.
Apropos very little, BT Sport’s Curb Your Enthusiasm-themed FA Cup adverts never fail to make me smile. Whoever came up with the idea deserves an award.
“Agree that Granada is an incredible place,” says Martyn Crooks. “I lived there for a few months as a student; at the time CF Granada were playing the third-tier football. The only time I was at El Estadio Los Carmenes was to see an R.E.M. concert. That evening I witnessed an attempt to relive their glory day, not too unlike recent Manchester United.”
Look, the new album is a return to form.
We tend not to do live blogs from the ground. More’s the pity.
“God, I love Granada,” writes Ian Copestake. “Not the team (didn’t know they had one!). The place! If only it was one the coast it would be THE best place on the planet.”
When you wrote ‘not the team’, I thought you were about to start eulogising Coronation Street and the Krypton Factor.
The route to Europa League glory for Granada and United
Semi-final Roma or Ajax
David de Gea starts in goal for Manchester United, one of three changes from the team that beat Brighton on Sunday. Scott McTominay and Daniel James replace Fred and Edinson Cavani. That probably means Mason Greenwood will move to centre forward.
Granada (4-2-3-1) Silva; Diaz, Vallejo, Duarte, Neva; Herrera, Gonalons; Puertas, Montoro, Kenedy; Soldado.
Substitutes: Banacloche, Fabrega, Foulquier, Nehuen Perez, German, Suarez, Brice, Machis, Molina.
Hello. Let’s start with a trip to Dictionary Corner:
Nearly is used to indicate that something is not quite the case, or not completely the case.
With a wave of Jan Eteki’s hand, Manchester United were virtually through. For much of a largely uneventful night it appeared that a single, gorgeous touch from Marcus Rashford would secure a small yet significant lead for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side to take into the second leg. Then a late gift given turned it into a virtually unassailable one, the substitute catching Bruno Fernandes in the face to give him the penalty from which he put them on the verge of the Europa League semi-final.
With half an hour gone Rashford had watched the ball travel 60 yards through the air to where he was running. He caught it on his toe, tamed it, and turned it into what seemed set to be the only goal. Instead, as added time approached Eteki, who had only been on the pitch four minutes, made the error that in effect ended this tie.Continue reading...
A look ahead to Granada v Manchester United, Arsenal v Slavia Prague, Ajax v Roma and Dinamo Zagreb v Villarreal
Granada have more than exceeded expectations since they were promoted to La Liga in 2019. They finished seventh in their first season back in the top flight, securing a place in the Europa League as a result. After knocking out Napoli and Molde on their way to the quarter-finals, they are not to be underestimated by Manchester United.Continue reading...
- United manager praises ‘bond’ and ‘spirit’ between goalkeepers
- Solskjær refuses to confirm who will face Granada on Thursday
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has welcomed the “bond” between Dean Henderson and David de Gea that he says exists despite fierce competition between the goalkeepers to be first choice for Manchester United.
Henderson was preferred to De Gea for Sunday’s 2-1 win over Brighton, a sign that the 24-year-old may now be considered Solskjær’s first choice given that the Spaniard had previously been picked regularly in the Premier League.Continue reading...
Our cartoonist looks at Mino Raiola’s hawking of the Dortmund forward around some of Europe’s leading clubs
- Doing some online shopping? Buy a Squires cartoon
- And take a look through David’s archive treasure trove
Manchester United could first curse and then thank their academy. Their youth system has supplied at least one player for every first-team squad since 1937 but United’s capacity to also produce footballers for other clubs threatened to harm them when Danny Welbeck put Brighton on course for a maiden win at Old Trafford. Instead, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, two others who followed Welbeck’s path into the United forward line and then the England squad, struck in a rescue job after a wretched first half.
Comebacks represent another United tradition – “We have done that a few times this season, we are getting used to it,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjær – while Brighton have acquired an unfortunate habit of losing games from winning positions. This was an addition to the litany of fixtures where they got plaudits but not points. Their excellence was not shown in the eventual scoreline.Continue reading...
- Live Premier League updates from Old Trafford
- Solskjaer ready to split goalkeeping duties
- Get in touch! Email your thoughts to Rob
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has just said Anthony Martial may not play again this season because of a knee injury. As exasperating as he can be, that would still be a big blow to United’s hopes of winning the Europa League.
It’s already been an eventful day in the Premier League. Read all about it by clicking the clickable things below.
United’s injury list is not as bad as feared. Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani all start, as do Paul Pogba and Dean Henderson, who is preferred to David de Gea. There are two changes from United’s last league game, the scruffy 1-0 win over West Ham three weeks ago: Pogba and Cavani are in for Scott McTominay and Daniel James.
Graham Potter sticks with the Brighton side that hammered Newcastle before the international break.
It’s second v sixteenth at Old Trafford. A home banker, right? Well not necessarily. This, for all kinds of reasons, is a really intriguing game. There’s Manchester United’s injury list and relatively modest home form; Brighton’s excellent recent performances and generally strong away form; the fact Brighton have never, ever, ever won at Old Trafford; and that bizarre game at the Amex Stadium in September, when Leandro Trossard hit the woodwork 49 times and Bruno Fernandes scored the winning goal after the final whistle had been blown.
While United are slightly in limbo - they are 17 points behind Manchester City and have an eight-point cushion from the teams outside the Champions League places - Brighton know exactly what time it is. For all their admirable football, they are still in a relegation battle and need all the points they can get. The league table says they have 32, which is 25 fewer than United. But if you’re into the whole xG thing, both teams should be on 49 points. That theoretical equality is another reason to think this match should be interesting enough to make us all forget the fact we’re missing bloody Line of Duty.Continue reading...
The title may never have been a realistic proposition but a win against Brighton would give a healthy boost to wrapping up a top-four finish early so Manchester United can focus on trying to win the Europa League and FA Cup. Graham Potter’s side begin a difficult run to the finish line with Everton and Chelsea following this and a final three games against West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal. The omens begin poorly as Brighton have conceded three goals in each of their past four meetings with United, losing each time. The meat of the run-in sandwich against Sheffield United, Leeds and Wolves will be crucial to their hopes of survival. Then again Newcastle’s form is so poor it may matter very little.
Sunday 7.30pm BT Sport 1Continue reading...
- Manchester United manager facing ‘difficult’ decision
- De Gea not assured of being Premier League first choice
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has made clear to David de Gea that he faces a fight to remain Manchester United’s No 1 goalkeeper and that he should expect to share that duty with Dean Henderson for the remainder of the season at least.
De Gea has not featured for United since the goalless draw at Chelsea on 28 February having returned to Spain for the birth of his first child. Henderson has started United’s past six games and, bar the mistake that led to Milan’s late equaliser in their Europa League last-16 first leg, the 24-year-old has impressed.Continue reading...
Chances for Arsenal and Liverpool to boost their seasons and for Edinson Cavani and Aleksandar Mitrovic to deliver goals
If anyone had told Mikel Arteta that last season’s gap between Arsenal and Liverpool – 43 points – would narrow to four by early April he would have been forgiven for envisaging an unlikely title battle. The truth from Arsenal’s perspective is far more mundane; Liverpool’s slump is the story and they travel to the Emirates in urgent need of a win that might recharge their top-four hopes. They cannot afford to drift any further behind Chelsea so this weekend is probably all about keeping pace, given Thomas Tuchel’s side face West Brom. This is not a fixture Arteta or Jürgen Klopp would have wanted on the back of an international break; Arsenal may be without Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, two of their biggest reasons to think a push for the Europa League is still on, and a nervy affair could be in prospect. Both teams’ campaigns are on the line, but not in the way either would wish. NA
Arsenal v Liverpool (Saturday, 8pm, all times BST)
Leicester v Manchester City (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Leeds v Sheffield United (Saturday, 3pm)
Chelsea v West Brom (Saturday, 12.30pm)
Manchester United v Brighton (Sunday, 7.30pm)
Newcastle v Tottenham (Sunday, 2.05pm)
Aston Villa v Fulham (Sunday, 4.30pm)
Everton v Crystal Palace (Monday, 6pm)
Southampton v Burnley (Sunday, 12pm)
Wolves v West Ham (Monday, 8.15pm)Continue reading...
- Manchester United left-back vows to turn over new leaf
- ‘I have another chance and I need to prove I’m different now’
Luke Shaw has talked about the deep sense of regret he carried for more than two years at letting down Gareth Southgate as he vowed to make the most of his fresh start with England.
The Manchester United left-back, who played in the 2-0 World Cup qualifying win against Albania in Tirana on Sunday, said he had shown a lack of respect at being called up in the past, which he put down in part to psychological difficulties.Continue reading...
- Butt has been head of first-team development
- United revamped backroom setup this month
Nicky Butt has stepped down as Manchester United’s head of first-team development to pursue “a new professional challenge”.
Butt has spent nine years in coaching and player development positions at the club’s academy, playing a key role in overseeing the progress of Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe, Dean Henderson and Mason Greenwood into the first team.Continue reading...
- Midfielder’s Instagram account targeted after Cup exit
- Fred one of several United players abused in recent weeks
The Manchester United midfielder Fred was the subject of racist abuse after his side’s 3-1 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Leicester on Sunday.
Fred was at fault for Leicester’s opening goal when he gifted the ball to Kelechi Iheanacho in front of goal, and the Leicester striker rounded the goalkeeper Dean Henderson to slot home.Continue reading...
The midfielder propelled Leicester to a FA Cup quarter-final victory that Manchester United never looked like winning
With hindsight Ole Gunner Solskjær might concede there have been better weeks to talk, a little disdainfully, about the “ego” of trophy-winning managers.
In a show of commendable humility, Solskjær’s Manchester United duly exited the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage, another moment of not-quite-there to follow three semi-final dead ends. Look on my selflessness and tremble. For I am the most humble.Continue reading...
The run had to end at some point but, when it did for Manchester United, it did so in comprehensive fashion. They had not tasted defeat on their domestic travels for 14 months – a sequence of 29 matches – yet they were second best in all departments here to see another avenue to silverware closed off.
In simple terms, Leicester seemed to want it more. Brendan Rodgers’s team pressed high, they snapped into challenges and refused to allow United to establish any rhythm. But once they had possession, they were slick and incisive. There were times when United gasped for breath.Continue reading...
The in-form Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice as Leicester outclassed and outsmarted United to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982
That’s it for tonight’s blog. I’ll leave you with David Hytner’s match report. Thanks for your company and emails, and congratulations to Leicester on a glorious performance. Night!
Here’s the magnificent Youri Tielemans
“It was a really good team performance. Everyone worked together, everyone was positive. It was a very hard game and I think we did brilliantly. [On the goal] I just saw the space, ran into it and tried to keep the shot low. Then Kelechi killed the game on a set-piece. He’s a good character - he’s very shy but always happy. [His current form] is brilliant for him and the team also.”
Apparently there were 28 passes before Tielemans’ goal, which makes it even better.
Here’s Kelechi Iheanacho
“I feel great and the whole team are happy. We’ve really been waiting for this moment, to get into the FA Cup semi-final [for the first time since 1982]. We worked really well in training to get ready for this game tactically. I think we were fitter than them in the game and that helped us, and we passed the ball really well.
A beaming James Maddison is down on the touchline, hugging his team-mates as they come off the field. It’s been the happiest of days for Leicester.
More more more
Peep peep! Leicester have reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in 39 years, where they will play Southampton. Their performance was almost flawless, full of intelligence, purpose, dynamism and ruthlessness. Kelechi Iheanacho scored two and had a stormer, with the brilliant Youri Tielemans getting the other goal. There were also outstanding performances from Wilfred Ndidi, Wesley Fofana, Caglar Soyuncu and Brendan Rodgers. United were poor by their standards but many of their errors were forced by Leicester, who pulled off one of their most rousing victories since Rodgers took over. Honestly, they were wonderful.
90+2 min Martial’s downward header is saved comfortably by Schmeichel.
90 min Four added minutes. It’s not happening.
88 min A sizzling, angry free-kick from Fernandes is tipped over smartly by Schmeichel.
87 min The world being in the state it is, most of the post-match focus will be on United’s inadequacies. That’s not fair on Leicester. Even by their admirable standards of the last two seasons, they have been absolutely brilliant tonight. And Brendan Rodgers has won the tactical battle hands down.
85 min On the plus side, at least United didn’t lose another semi-final.
84 min Fred is replaced by Amad.
82 min A change for Leicester: Hamza Choudhury replaces Jamie Vardy, who was a constant menace even though he is clearly out of form in front of goal.
81 min “Just joined, somewhat late, and saw your post about John Beck,” says Richard Hirst. “Has there ever been such a big difference between player and manager: he was quite a footballing midfielder for Fulham, the complete antithesis of what he became as a manager.”
George Graham? I suppose Beck still wins.
80 min The scoreline is a fair reflection of the game. It’s been a masterful performance from Leicester - and they are playing without three or four regulars.
Leicester had a free-kick on the left wing. Albrighton swiung it deep, McTominay misjudged it and Iheanacho headed in from a few yards out. Henderson, scrambling across his goal, got hands on the ball but could only push it into the net.
Leicester City are heading into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982!
76 min It’s all United now, though Leicester are well organised defensively and Kasper Schmeichel still hasn’t had much to do.
75 min Evans is booked for a hopelessly late tackle on Fernandes.
74 min If it stays like this, there will be plenty of talk about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to leave Shaw, Fernandes and McTominay on the bench. Maybe he really meant what he said about league position > trophies.
73 min A Leicester change: Dennis Praet replaces Ayoze Perez.
72 min McTominay is booked for bundling over Perez near the halfway line. I’m not sure it was a foul, but there you go.
70 min Fernandes’s cross is headed behind by the stretching Evans. This is United’s best spell of the match. Fernandes’s corner is headed away by, yes, Ndidi.
70 min Soyuncu’s awkward long pass is killed sweetly by Iheanacho, who then pokes it forward to leave Vardy one against one with Maguire. But this time Maguire keeps his legs closed and intercepts with authority.
69 min Albrighton is booked for a foul on Shaw.
69 min “Every time Castagne gets the ball,” says Gavin Herbert, “I’m reminded of this.”
68 min This is now United’s best available XI, and they are dominating for the firest time since the early stages. Wan-Bissaka hammers a cross that hits Cavani in the chest/arm before he has time to react. Moments later, McTominay’s flicked header is comfortably saved by Schmeichel.
65 min McTominay wins a corner for United. Fernandes curls it out, Maguire heads it across the area and Albrighton clears.
64 min The quadruple substitution: Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani replace Matic, Telles, Pogba and van de Beek.
64 min Telles overhits the free-kick and it drifts out of play. That’s his last touch of the game.
63 min United are about to make a quadruple substitution.
63 min Martial is fouled 30 yards from goal by Evans, who insists it was a dive. Replays suggest it probably was, but Andre Marriner has given the free-kick.
62 min Perez runs at a backpedalling United defence but then sprays high and wide from 25 yards. This has been a scintillating performance from Leicester - and they are doing it without Harvey Barnes and James Maddison.
61 min Lindelof does very well to beat Vardy to a near-post cross from Albrighton. It’s all Leicester at the moment, and I’m surprised we haven’t seen Bruno Fernandes. United have been completely outplayed.
60 min Tielemans and Ndidi have been majestic today. So has Iheanacho, who took his goal expertly but has been a revelation in general play.
58 min: Vardy misses a sitter! Leicester should be out of sight. Ndidi won the ball off Greenwood on the halfway line and found Iheanacho. He slid a pass down the inside-left channel to Vardy, who nutmegged Maguire deliciously to move through on goal but then shot wide of the near post from 10 yards. “Fucking shite!” he screams, and it was.
57 min The corner is half cleared, and Greenwood goes on a mazy run before hitting a cross that is cleared by Soyuncu. Telles picks up the loose ball and hits a booming shot that flashes past the far post. Schmeichel seemed pretty relaxed, so maybe it wasn’t as close as it looked.
57 min Telles’s free-kick is headed behind by Soyuncu.
56 min Telles’s cross is handled by Albrighton, which means a free-kick to United on the left wing...
54 min “This happened to Palace in 1990,” says Ant. “They’d lost 9-0 to Liverpool in the league but beat them 4-3 in the semi-final. Scenes!”
That’s a lovely goal from an outstanding multi-purpose midfield player. He lost Matic by playing a one-two with Iheanacho, then ran away from Fred and rifled a low drive into the far corner from the edge of the area. The defending wasn’t great - Fred was unusually flat-footed and Lindelof backed off - but it was superbly taken by Tielemans.
And now Youri Tielemans has scored!
51 min Leicester have made a confident start to the second half. The midfield pair of Ndidi and Tielemans are bossing the game.
49 min The match will be settled tonight, even if it means extra-time, penalties and a Royal Rumble. So long as they’re finished in time for Line of Duty, I don’t care who wins or how they do it.
48 min Maguire lofts an absurd square ball across his own area and out for a throw-in. Ndidi receives the ball, surges into the area but then crosses too close to Henderson.
47 min “Some discussion on BBC1 about whether Greenwood gave a shout for VDB to leave it,” says Tom Williams. “Looked like Greenwood was very much on his heels until Donny’s dummy™ so maybe one for best non-touch assists too? Just eager and delighted for anything good to be attributed to van de Beek.”
Yeah, I thought they underplayed van de Beek’s contribution. Whether there was a shout or not, it was a lovely bit of play.
46 min Peep peep!
On the BBC, Guy Mowbray makes an excellent point: whatever happens here, Southampton will be playing a team that has recently beaten them 9-0 in the semi-final. It’ll be a cracking story if they win.
The draw for the final will be made after the semi-finals have been completed.
It’s time for the semi-final draw...
“I am a massive fan of Donny as you’ve heard me email in so much to MBMs,” says Ruth Purdue. “He is not Bruno and comparing him to Fernandes is not fair on either of them. He is an excellent passer of the ball and hardly ever gives it away. Donny is a cute touch and link-up player, similar to Mata. He can work in tight spaces easily. Today he has made forward runs and not been found, similar to other games.
“Bruno constantly gives it away sometimes embarrassingly and that lead up to goals (one being a Leicester goal) but his bravery, imagination, leadership and vision have dragged this team from the brink. They have two different styles.
“van de Beek should get an assist for his non-assist,” says Justin Kavanagh. “Football is getting far too existential these days. Or is it?”
“The best thing about Shevchenko’s transfer to Chelsea was the effect it had on Drogba,” says Phil Podolsky. “Never seen as clear an example of a player stepping up his game as Drogba in the 2006-07 season and it was a sight to behold.”
FA Cup semi-final draw
These are the ball numbers, the hell you care.
Peep peep! We’re no closer to finding out who will complete the semi-final line-up. Leicester were much the better team in the first half, playing very intelligently on the counter-attack, and took the lead when the in-form Kelechi Iheanacho punished a lamentable backpass from Fred. But United managed to stay in the game, just about, and equalised when Mason Greenwood scored after a fine dummy from Donny van de Beek.
44 min: So close from Perez! That was beautiful play. He received a pass from Albrighton just outside the area, zig-zagged away from Matic and swept a shot that curled just wide of the far post. Henderson wouldn’t have saved it.
43 min By the way, the draw for the semi-final will take place at half-time.
42 min Leicester charge down the other end, and Albrighton’s excellent cross is headed behind by Lindelof. This is turning into a good game.
41 min Greenwood picks up a loose ball on the edge of the area and lays it back to Pogba, whose tame shot rolls through to Schmeichel.
39 min “I’m glad to see van de Beek getting another chance today (not that he’s done much with it so far),” says David Wall. “From his Ajax days he’s obviously a good player, and I always think it a shame when good players like that aren’t able to show their class when they move to the Premier League. I’m not a Chelsea fan but I felt that way about Shevchenko disappointing there (though I’m not saying van de Beek is on his level). It’s as though the entire league has missed out on something.”
I know what you mean. A small part of me never quite recovered from two years with Seba Veron. As for van de Beek, his confidence is through the floor, unsurprisingly. It’s all very strange. That was a touch of class for Greenwood’s goal, though, or rather a non-touch.
Telles and Pogba combined well down the left, with Pogba dragging a low cross into the middle. Van de Beek dummied it beautifully at the near post, and Greenwood nipped in front of Castagne to ping a first-time shot into the net.
Manchester United equalise out of nothing!
38 min A decent cross from Telles is missed by the leaping Martial at the near post.
36 min Pogba goes down holding his right foot after Fofana accidentally stands on it. He’s in pain but is going to continue.
34 min Wan-Bissaka makes a vital interception to stop Iheanacho’s pass putting Vardy through on goal. Again it came from a mistake, with Lindelof wandering out of defence and then playing a poor pass towards Pogba.
33 min Pogba is now back on the left, so it looks like that was just a temporary switch. United need to do something, though, because Leicester are teaching them a lesson.
32 min Donny van de Beek has been sadly anonymous for United, and I suspect we’ll see Bruno Fernandes as early as half-time. Edinson Cavani is another option. For now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has switched his attacking players, with Pogba moving to the right, Greenwood into the centre and Martial to the left.
31 min Albrighton dummies to cross and instead squares the free-kick to Tielemans, whose first-time shot from 20 yards is blocked.
30 min Maguire is booked for fouling Iheanacho just outside the area on the right. This has, so far, been a tactical masterclass from Brendan Rodgers, with selective pressing and rapier counter-attacks. Iheanacho and Vardy are pulling United’s centre-backs all over the place.
29 min “Hello there, Rob!” says Adam Roberts. “Does Fred get an assist for that? The weight on the pass was perfect.”
Yep, and a pre-assist from Maguire.
28 min Fred’s cross from the right is punched behind a little nervously by Schmeichel, who seemed worried that it might sneak in the far corner. Telles’s corner is headed well wide by Maguire. That was a slightly better chance than the first one; I think he saw the ball late though.
27 min Although the goal came in farcical circumstances, that shouldn’t obscure an elegant, confident finish from Iheanacho. He took it beautifully.
26 min I’ll say one thing and one thing only: John Beck’s Cambridge never conceded a goal like that.
That was a mess from United’s point of view. They tried to play out from the back... with hilarious consequences. It started when Maguire playing a dangerous pass into Fred, who was facing his own goal in the D and had a Leicester player up his derriere. Fred tried to play the ball back to Henderson - but instead gave it straight to Iheanacho, who moved smoothly round Henderson to score.
Kelechi Iheanacho scores after a howler from Fred!
22 min Albrighton beats Telles and wins a corner off Maguire. Leicester are well on top at the moment.
21 min Albrighton goes down holding his head after being hit by a flailing arm from Telles. It was clumsy rather than malicious, and life goes on.
20 min I was going to say before the game that Leicester had the home disadvantage, as both these teams are better away from home. In fact, in the first 20 minutes United have been more like the home team, which is playing into Leicester’s hands.
18 min Another half-chance for Vardy, whose low shot is well blocked by Maguire. The opportunity came after Fred was robbed by Perez 30 yards from goal.
18 min United started well but Leicester have looked more dangerous in the last few minutes. Vardy has taken up some good positions between Wan-Bissaka and Lindelof.
17 min Henderson makes a good save. Vardy broke into the area on the left and tried to pick out Iheanacho with a low cross. Maguire’s interception sent the ball back to Vardy, who swept a first-time shot towards the far corner with his right foot. Henderson got down to his left to push it away.
13 min Telles’s deep corner is headed towards goal by the backpedalling Maguire, and Schmeichel makes a comfortable save. Maguire couldn’t get any power in the header.
12 min Martial, who looks sharp, wins a corner on the right. Telles wanders across to take it...
8 min United continue to dominate possession, with Pogba seeing a lot of the ball. Leicester won’t mind that too much, such is their counter-attacking threat.
6 min In the modern game, Martial could easily have been booked for that tackle, as his studs were showing. Funny how things evolve: 20 years ago that would have been seen as a magnificent tackle. Either way, Martial’s tackle only registered 1.1 on the Sounessometer.
5 min Leicester players are furious when Martial puts Tielemans up in the air. It was a very strong tackle; the only issue is whether it was dangerous. The referee didn’t think so.
4 min Vardy scoots down the left and crosses dangerously towards Iheanacho, whose first-time shot is blocked by the sliding Telles. It wouldn’t have counted - Vardy was offside - but that was good defending from Telles.
3 min United have started well, with some good one-touch passing.
1 min Peep peep! Manchester United kick off from right to left.
The players are out on the field, all with their gameface on. Here we are now, entertain us.
While we wait for this to start, there’s a spectacular match taking place at the London Stadium.
And the last time Leicester hosted Man Utd in a cup game, 25 years ago, Emile Heskey and Steve Claridge concocted a goal of astonishing brilliance. Don’t worry about reading the words - that’s so 2002 - but please scroll down to the video at the bottom of the article.
The last time Leicester reached the FA Cup semi-final was in 1982, when they triumphed in one of the strangest quarter-finals ever played.
Brendan Rodgers has picked his strongest available team; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not. There are a few surprises in the Man Utd side - Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Alex Telles and Donny van de Beek all start, with Bruno Fernandes only on the bench. Marcus Rashford is not in the squad.
Leicester’s only change from last weekend 5-0 win over Sheffield United is at wing-back, with Marc Albrighton replacing the injured Ricardo Pereira.
The schedulers have saved the best for last: Leicester v Manchester United is the tie of the round, a potential humdinger between two of the best teams in the country. Their last meeting was an excellent 2-2 draw on Boxing Day, and this feels like a game that could go the distance: extra-time, penalties, sudden death, the whole thing only just finishing in time for Line of Duty.
It’s not quite the A-list party it might have been, as both teams are without key players through injury: Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, James Justin, Ricardo Pereira, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani are all likely to miss the game. But that means opportunities for players like Kelechi Iheanacho, who rammed a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend.Continue reading...
Manager’s playing down of knockout success was a psychological move that worked well in Milan
If Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s declaration that cup competitions should not be the gauge of Manchester United was a cute psychological move it reaped dividends at Milan on Thursday. Needing victory at the San Siro, his side duly delivered to eliminate Stefano Pioli’s team and move into the Europa League quarter-finals. Next United travel to Leicester on Sunday for their other realistic route to silverware: the FA Cup.
Solskjær’s perspective shifted noticeably on sudden-death competitions before United’s trip to Italy. Rather than claim a triumph would be a major step and crucial for his side’s development, which has been his stance, United were to be judged primarily on Premier League performances and position.Continue reading...