MAN UTD 3, WEST HAM 1
There was no Wembley hangover as Manchester United swept past West Ham to claim an Emirates FA Cup quarter-final tie at home to Fulham.
The Reds, paraded the Carabao Cup, which they won on Sunday, before kick-off, and winning silverware after a six-year wait had clearly whetted the appetite.
But it was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggested as United had to battle from behind after falling behind to a spectacular Said Benrahma goal early in the second half.
Erik ten Hag’s side is never beaten as they once again proved as they fought back with three late goals from the 77th minute.
While Alejandro Garnacho was named player of the march, Wout Weghorst was the unsung hero with a key role in all three goals.
The Dutchman forced Nayef Aguerd to head into his own goal for the equaliser, had a shot which was blocked and rebounded to Garnacho for his stunning strike and then harried Aguerd into an error for Fred’s injury-time clincher.Embed from Getty Images
Ten Hag praised the never-say-die spirit, saying: “Once again the team showed personality and character and never give up to turn round the game.
“That was very important and it was a massive performance in terms of personality and shows we have the character to deal with difficult situations.
“There is energy and strength on the bench to push one another and believe we can do it.
“This team is composed and does not pan ic so we have different dynamics and substitutes we can bring on to increase the tempo and create chances.”
Ten Hag was delighted with Garnacho, adding: “Today was another step. He has made an impact coming on and I told him it was about time to make an impact as a starter which is the next step.”
He also described Weghorst as one of the best players on the pitch for his involvement in all three goals.
Hammers’ manager David Moyes believed United were there for the taking.
He said: “It was a great opportunity to go through and we blew it. For 60 to 70 per cent of the game we had control and good chances.
“We played ever so well but needed a second goal or, more importantly not to concede and we gave away two ridiculous goals.
“I was really disappointed as I felt the worst would be the game would go to extra time.”
Ten Hag made six changes from the side that began the Carabao Cup final win over Newcastle.
In came Wembley substitutes Tyrell Malacia, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, Marcel Sabitzer and Garnacho.
Marcus Rashford, who has scored 17 club goals in 19 matches since the World Cup, was on the bench, alongside Casemiro and Raphael Varane, but Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw were not in the squad.
Moyes made four changes, three of them enforced.
Striker Danny Ings, who scored twice in the 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest at the weekend, is cup-tied having played for Aston Villa in the third round before his move to the Hammers in the January transfer window.
Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was out with a fractured cheekbone and eye socket with Vladimir Coufal also missing because of a heel injury.
In came Alphonse Areola, Emerson Palmieri and Michail Antonio while Pablo Fornals started with Jarrod Bowen dropping to the bench.
There was plenty happening before kick off as Maguire and Bruno Fernandes paraded the Carabao Cup.
Casemiro and women’s goalkeeper Mary Earps also were brought on to the pitch with the honours they collected as the FIFA FIFPro awards.
Sir Alex Ferguson presented an award to David De Gea who broke the club record number of clean sheets on Sunday with his 181st in the Wembley final.
Then there was a period of applause in memory of legendary football commentator John Motson who has died aged 77.
Finally, the action got underway and United carved out three decent early chances.
Sabitzer’s drive was brilliantly kept out by Areola diving low to his right, Antony’s effort narrowly cleared the crossbar and Areola also did well to beat out a fierce shot from Garnacho.
The Hammers had a great chance to snatch the lead with their first goal attempt. Antonio was sent clear one-on-one by Benrahma but De Gea stood tall to make a huge block.
And from the resulting corner, Tomas Soucek headed into the side netting at the near post.
There was a change at the break for the Reds as McTominay made way for Casemiro.
De Gea was called into action again early in the second half to palm out a goalbound header from Soucek.
But the Spaniard was finally beaten in the 54th minute, albeit with an element of controversy before Benrahma bent in a stunner from the left of the box into the far top corner.
There was a suspicion the ball had gone out of play before Soucek brought it under control. A VAR check, however, awarded the goal as there was no conclusive proof the entire ball has crossed the line.
Ten Hag immediately brought on-big-hitters Lisandro Martinez and Rashford as Antony and Lindelof were sacrificed.
United, forced to take risks, were caught on the break as the dangerous Antonio burst clear down the left and cut inside before De Gea made another big block.
The Reds thought they had equalised when Casemiro headed home Fernandes’ free kick but VAR confirmed the initial suspicion that the Brazilian had strayed marginally offside.
But five minutes later in the 77th minute they were not denied as Hammers’ central defender Nayef Aguerd, under pressure from Weghorst, headed Fernandes’ corner into his own net.
United’s fourth change with four minutes left saw Fred introduced for Sabitzer.
There was late drama as United scored twice at the death to snatch victory.
They went ahead for the first time in the 90th minute when Weghorst’s shot was blocked and rebounded to Garnacho who, from the left of the box, bent a beauty into the far corner.
Ten Hag then sent on Raphael Varana for Garnacho to shut up shop and see out the game.
But in the fifth minute of four added minutes, United added a third goal.
The hard-working Weghorst harried Aguerd into a mistake six yards out. The loose ball flew out to Fred who fired home a low shot from the edge of the box to seal another memorable cup win.