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How Manchester United silenced critics with FA Cup victory at Wembley

Manchester United players celebrate the FA Cup victory at Wembley | Image: Getty

.Beat Man City 2-1

By Valentine Amanze

Manchester United and their Manager, Erik ten Hag, on Saturday May 25, 2024, silenced their critics with a 2-1 FA Cup victory against city rivals and the defending champions, Manchester City, at Wembley.

The victory, no doubt, justified the ability of Ten Hag to take the club to the next level irrespective of injury setback in the just ended season.

The much criticized Dutch manager has won two trophies for Manchester United – Carabao Cup in 2023 and FA Cup in 2024 – in his two-year contract. He also played in FA Cup final in 2023, losing 1-2 to Manchester City.

Ten Hag went into this Manchester derby final with the growing expectation that he would be sacked by United’s new co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, irrespective of the outcome.

If Ten Hag is to be dismissed, he would be going out on the back of the finest day of his two-year reign and Manchester United’s finest moment for years following a performance that was virtually unrecognisable from the dismal fare they have served up this season.

Also read: Be patient, Ten Hag tells Manchester United fans

Manchester United’s triumph, which denied Premier League champions City a second successive domestic double, was built on an outstanding first-half display that brought goals from Alejadro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo.

Garnacho was the beneficiary of a mix-up between City keeper, Stefan Ortega, and Josko Gvardiol, as he was left with an open goal on the half-hour, while Mainoo crowned a sweeping move with a calm finish from Bruno Fernandes’ delicate touch nine minutes later.

City inevitably applied pressure in the second half, Erling Haaland hitting the frame of the goal, Manchester United keeper Andre Onana saving superbly from Kyle Walker and Julian Alvarez missing a great chance.

City substitute Jeremy Doku pulled one back with four minutes left but Ten Hag’s side held firm to record a famous victory and win a 13th FA Cup, their first since 2015.

The final result justified the claim of Ten Hag that the poor run of the club was a result of injuries that deplated the team and not lack of form or commitment of the players.

The FA Cup final was the first time Ten Hag played 95 per cent of his main team, as many of the players recovered from career-threatening injuries to win the most glamorous trophy in England.

The victory will remain indelible as the first that welcomed Ratcliffe, the man, who will be at the centre of decision-making process, to the highly competitive football culture of England and Europe.

Recall that Manchester United took a rocky road to Wembley glory, beating Liverpool 4-3 at Old Trafford in the quarter-final with Amad Diallo’s last-gasp goal in extra-time, then narrowly avoiding embarrassment in the semi-final when they conceded a 3-0 lead to Championship side, Coventry City, before winning on penalties.

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