MAN UTD 3, FULHAM 1
Manchester United claimed a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup after Fulham pressed the self-destruct button in five minutes of madness and mayhem at Old Trafford.
The Cottagers were 1-0 ahead and in complete control when they dramatically imploded after conceding a clear penalty when Willian handled a goalbound shot from Jadon Sancho.
Willian was dismissed as were manager Marco Silva and Mitrovic who manhandled referee Chris Kavanagh.
The Football Association are also certain to take action as Fulham coaching staff went on to the field to join players in surrounding Kavanagh.
When order was restored, Bruno Fernandes slotted home the penalty before Marcel Sabitzer quickly made it 2-1.
There was four minutes and 15 seconds between Willian’s sending off and Sabitzer making it 2-1 with Fernandes sealing victory in stoppage time to set up a last-four tie again Brighton at Wembley next month.
Silva was unhappy with Kavanagh’s officiating after they had a couple of penalty shouts rejected and he also cited grievances with the match official in other matches.
He said: “Let’s talk about all the game and not just one moment. Until the penalty moment and the red cards we were clearly the best team on the pitch.Embed from Getty Images
“For me it was a decision the VAR can take. What is difficult to understand is why the two moments in the box in the first half one of them is a clear penalty and nobody checks, nobody sees.
“It’s difficult for us to understand. Chris [Kavanagh] was in a game we played away at West Ham where we lost with two clear handballs, we received the apology because of the mistakes.
“The last game at Leeds in the FA Cup it was him again. And for a game that is the quarter finals it’s him again, it’s difficult to understand. Of course, we respect that he’s a top referee in this country, I accept that, but unfortunately for us with us he’s it’s been really unhappy this season.”
Silva claimed he was dismissed for not being in the technical area when Kavanagh was looking at the monitor, but admitted he was in the wrong.
“We should control emotions, but we are human beings. I should not be sent off and Mitrovic should have controlled his emotions. I should have been there to protect them,” he said.
United boss Erik ten Hag would not comment on Fulham imploding but was asked if managers should be an example as a role model with millions watching on television.
He said: “It is not always easy. Last week I was frustrated when I saw so many bad decisions go against you.
“You have to clear your mind, be rational and focus on the game, but also referees have to take responsibility.
“As coaches and managers, we have to be examples.”
Ten Hag praised his players after they once again battled from behind.
He said: “This team is strong, has character, belief and determination to win games.
“When it is in difficult periods, they fight back.”
This was United’s 10th straight cup victory and ten Hag added when competing for trophies it gives the players energy.
“I am happy and pleased with the performances, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” he explained.
Ten Hag made four changes to the side that won 1-0 at Real Betis in the Europa League.
Casemiro was suspended and replaced by Sabitzer while Luke Shaw, Sancho and Scott McTominay came in for Tyrell Malacia, Facundo Pellistri and Fred who dropped to the bench.
Raphael Varane missed out through injury for the Reds.
There were three changes from the Fulham side that lost 3-0 at home to Arsenal in the Premier League with Issa Diop, Joao Palhinha and Willian returning with Tosin Adarabioyo, Sasa Lukic and Manor Solomon dropping to the bench.
Fulham made the brighter start as Diop’s looping header was touched over the bar by David De Gea before Willian sliced a shot wide.
United’s first attack of intent in the 13th minute saw Sancho and Rashford make a swift break before the latter set up Wout Weghorst who shot tamely at keeper Bernd Leno.
Harry Maguire picked up a booking which would rule him out of the cup semi-final should the Reds make the last four.
Rashford broke through on goal but Leno stood tall to block his shot from a tight angle.
The German keeper also had to beat out a fiercely struck effort from Sabitzer but it was far from vintage United.
Arguably United’s best chance of the opening half came in stoppage time after a slick one-touch move ended with McTominay’s shot deflected for a corner.
Fulham were again fast out of the traps at the start of the second period and United were twice saved by De Gea.
First he turned over a shot from Antonee Robinson and then he flung himself to his left to turn away a drove from Willian.
But United’s luck ran out from Pereira’s resulting corner which was touched on by Diop for Mitrovic to fire home from six yards. The ball deflected off Aaron Wan-Bissaka as it flew into the roof of the net for his 12th goal of the season.
Surprisingly it was the Serb’s first-ever goal in the FA Cup in his 12th appearance in the knockout.
The goal jolted United to life as Rashford cut the ball back to Bruno Fernandes who fired wide.
Ten Hag made his first change just short of the hour as McTominay was replaced by Antony.
Fulham almost had a further foothold on the game when De Gea pulled off a fabulous save to claw out Mitrovic’s header.
The game dramatically swung United’s way moments later when the Reds won a penalty after Sancho’s effort was clearly handled on the line by Willian.
But it took a VAR check and referee Kavanagh sent to the pitchside monitor for the penalty to be awarded.
Willian was dismissed as was Silva for his protests.
And in remarkable scenes, coaching staff raced on to the field to join players as they surrounded Kavanagh who looked to be shoved by Mitrovic who was also handed a red card.
The five minutes of mayhem ended with Fernandes sending Leno the wrong way from 12 yards.
United had taken the lead 40 seconds later against Fulham’s nine men as Sancho and Shaw linked down the left with the latter’s cross converted by Sabitzer with an audacious flick.
There was also a VAR check for a possible offside, an anxious wait before the goal was awarded, the Austrian’s first for the Reds.
United made a second change with seven minutes left when Fred came on for Rashford.
And the Reds made absolutely certain of victory in the sixth of seven added minutes when they netted a third goal on the break.
Fred released Fernandes who rifled home an unstoppable drive for his 10th goal of the season.