Erik ten Hag masterminds FA Cup final upset over Man City in his last Man Utd game

erik ten hag masterminds fa cup final upset over man city in his last man utd game

Manchester United beat Manchester City to win their 13th FA Cup (Picture: Getty)

A spirited Manchester United sealed their 13th FA Cup after holding off a late Manchester City fightback to win 2-1 at Wembley, in what was likely Erik ten Hag’s final game as manager.

Speculation over Ten Hag’s future dominated the build-up to the 143rd cup final, a repeat of last year’s all-Manchester affair, and United’s players looked to be fighting for their manager in a superb first-half display, 12 months on from that painful 2-1 defeat.

Alejandro Garnacho capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Stefan Ortega and Josko Gvardiol to stun the 2023 winners on the half-hour mark before Kobbie Mainoo latched onto a spellbinding Bruno Fernandes assist to double United’s advantage.

City – targeting a historic double-double – fought back after the break, with Erling Haaland rattling the crossbar and Julian Alvarez squandering a huge opportunity after being brought on in place of Kevin De Bruyne.

Jeremy Doku halved the deficit in the 87th minute, but the Red Devils held firm to upset the odds and get their hands on the trophy for a 13th time in their history, denying Pep Guardiola and co their second piece of silverware of the campaign.

The result ensured United will be competing in next year’s Europa League, with Chelsea dropping into the Europa Conference League and Newcastle missing out on Europe altogether next season.

erik ten hag masterminds fa cup final upset over man city in his last man utd game

Rumours had been swirling over Ten Hag’s future in the build-up (Picture: Getty)

A barge in the back from Lisandro Martinez had Haaland screaming for a penalty inside the opening minute, but United fans breathed a collective sigh of relief as the challenge went unpunished following a VAR review.

United’s first real opportunity arrived nine minutes into the contest as Bruno Fernandes worked the ball out to the right flank for Garnacho, whose tame strike failed to trouble Ortega.

With the Red Devils building in confidence, Ortega took an almighty risk attempting to play out from the back. Mateo Kovacic spared the blushes of City’s stand-in goalkeeper, though, poking the wall away from an onrushing Scott McTominay.

Diogo Dalot – United’s Players’ Player of the Year – caused panic in City’s ranks with a looping ball through the middle on the half-hour mark and a breakdown in communication between Gvardiol and Ortega allowed Garnacho to race through and finish into an empty net to break the deadlock.

erik ten hag masterminds fa cup final upset over man city in his last man utd game

Garnacho opened the scoring on the half-hour mark at Wembley (Picture: Getty)

Just eight minutes later, Marcus Rashford, playing in his 21st Manchester derby, appeared to have doubled United’s lead as he cooly directed the ball past Ortega. However, replays showed Garnacho was offside in the build-up and the goal was chalked off.

But United, sniffing a huge upset against their closest rivals, had the bit between their teeth with half-time beckoning and the pressure told as the ever-present Garnacho fed Fernandes who, in turn, found Mainoo with a deft pass.

The 19-year-old midfielder capped off a superb first-half performance to make it two for his boyhood club on 39 minutes, sending Ortega the wrong way to score his fifth of the campaign and send United supporters into raptures.

erik ten hag masterminds fa cup final upset over man city in his last man utd game

Academy graduate Mainoo doubled United’s lead before half-time (Picture: Getty)

Doku came on in place of Kovacic at the halfway stage and the substitution appeared to spark City into life, with a powerful Haaland strike rattling Andre Onana’s crossbar ten minutes after the break.

Guardiola’s half-time team talk must have been ringing in the ears of the Premier League champions, with Onana producing a stunning save to deny an arrowing 20-yard effort from Kyle Walker on the hour-mark.

Second-half substitute Julian Alvarez, introduced in place of Kevin De Bruyne, had an inviting chance to half the deficit in the 65th minute, but the World Cup winner had his head in his hands after firing wide of Onana’s goal.

erik ten hag masterminds fa cup final upset over man city in his last man utd game

Doku pulled a goal back for City in the 87th minute (Picture: Getty)

At the other end of the pitch, Garnacho made inroads down the right before thumping the ball straight at Ortega, who parried the ball behind for a corner.

Onana was once again at the heart of the action with 15 minutes remaining, pushing a skimming Walker effort away to safety, only for referee Andrew Madley to blow his whistle for offside.

Ten Hag’s men appeared to be cruising towards victory but a lively Doku had other ideas, cutting inside and beating Onana at his near post from the edge of the box.

But a resolute United refused to roll over, ending what has otherwise been a bitterly disappointing season on an almighty high.

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