Everton vs Manchester United match report: Anthony Martial sends United into FA Cup final after thriller

Everton 1 Manchester United 2

Glenn Moore
Wembley Stadium
Saturday 23 April 2016 19:12
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Anthony Martial scores winner for Manchester United
Anthony Martial scores winner for Manchester United

Roberto Martinez will always remember Wembley fondly, but from now it will be a bittersweet recollection. Three years ago he inspired relegation-bound Wigan Athletic to defeat Manchester City and win the FA Cup for the first and only time, the finest day of his and the club’s career. This evening, in the same grand arena, he saw his last hope of remaining manager of Everton slip away in the cruellest fashion.

Everton, patched up and bereft of belief, should have been swept away by a rampant Manchester United side in the first half of this FA Cup semi-final. Fortunate to concede only once - to former player Marouane Fellaini - in the opening hour they unexpectedly rallied to level through a Chris Smalling own goal. But in injury-time, with everyone in the stadium readying themselves for extra-time, Anthony Martial glided into space and delivered a rapier finish to send Manchester United to their 19th final.

Everton have now lost to Manchester clubs in the semi-finals of both domestic cups this season, but in the league they languish in the bottom half. The majority of supporters believe the club’s most talented squad in three decades is being mis-managed and have turned against their urbane manager. A first trophy since 1995 would probably have kept him in employment, it will now be surprise if he is at Goodison Park in August.

On the other bench even winning the FA Cup - for the first time since 2004 - might not save Louis van Gaal should Manchester United fail to qualify for the Champions League. However, there were more signs in this fifth successive victory that the Dutchman’s re-building of United may yet bear fruit. With Wayne Rooney pulling the strings in midfield, and pace ahead and in front of him, United should have won this tie at a canter. That they only did so only at the last confirmed Van Gaal’s United remain a work in progress, but there are signs that he could be the man to reprise the club’s twin traditions of attacking enterprise and youth development.

Marouane Fellaini celebrates putting United in front 

Some perspective is required, for Everton were weakened opposition. Not only was their confidence shot, injuries and suspension forced Martinez to pull together a makeshift side with a back four featuring two half-fit centre-halves and and a midfielder, Mo Besic, at right-back. On the bench were Tony Hibbert, who last played in 2014, and Matthew Pennington, recalled on Thursday from loan at Walsall.

Besic was up against £39m Martial, who was not about to pass up such an opportunity. Within three minutes he confirmed he had the Bosnian’s measure, cruising down the left wing before being halted, at the second attempt, by John Stones. The corner, though, was gathered by Joel Robles and swiftly despatched upfield where Romelu Lukaku bullied his way past Michael Carrick and Tim Fosu-Mensah and, despite a poor first touch, round David De Gea, only to scuff his shot. Rooney, of all people, had sprinted back to head off the line, though even he may have been powerless had Lukaku settled himself and squared to the unmarked Tom Cleverley.

David De Gea dives down to save Romelu Lukaku's penalty 

A goal then and Everton might, given their cup successes this season, have enjoyed the injection of confidence this paralysed team desperately needed. Instead, notwithstanding another break when Lukaku’s touch betrayed him, United took a grip of the game.

Despite Everton retreating so deep they had seven men strung across the 18-yard line there were a torrent of good chances. Marcos Rojo headed a Rooney free-kick just wide; Jesse Lingard, drifting away from Leighton Baines onto another Rooney cross, was denied by Robles; Martial, played onside by Stones, blazed over; then, from Fellaini’s lay-off, Robles saved from Marcus Rashford.

Briefly Everton calmed the storm, keeping the ball for a period without mounting a threat, but when United came at them again they opened up. Rashford drew Phil Jagielka from the centre and fed Martial who needed just a cursory drop of the shoulder to skip by Besic. His cut-back found Fellaini, who had pulled off Stones. The Belgian, sold by Everton to United for a widely derided £28m, paid off a fat slice of the fee as he tucked the chance away.

Everton were booed off, not undeservedly. They reappeared with greater conviction but it was not long before United had again penned them back. Rashford and Lingard spurned clear shooting opportunities.

United players celebrate with their fans after Martial's late winner 

It seemed not to matter such was United’s dominance, but then Everton, out of the royal blue, rediscovered something of their old selves. Lennon broke and found Barkley who was felled in the box by Fosu-Mensah, the tackler getting a touch on the ball but cleaning out Barkley with his back leg. Lukaku had missed two recent penalties but stepped up again. He hit it firmly, but too close to De Gea who made an excellent save.

Contrarily the miss seemed to lift Everton who for the first time began to exert consistent pressure with Cleverley going close from Aaron Lennon’s cross. It was the latter’s last significant contribution as Gerard Deulafou replaced him. Like many team-mates the Spaniard has gone off the boil in the latter half of the season but remains a skilful player and he had an instant impact. Rojo was withdrawn at half-time the last time he faced Deulafou and his reluctance to engage allowed the winger to send in a cross Smalling tried to clear with his wrong foot. Instead he sliced the ball into his own net.

With rediscovered belief coursing through their veins Everton searched for a winner and came close through Lukaku who almost reached a Deulofeu cross (with Daley Blind lucky not to be penalised for tugging him back) then was denied by Fellaini.

But United always looked dangerous themselves and Martial, tiring of his team-mates failing to connect with a stream of dangerous crosses, did the job himself. Ander Herrera got the better of Jagielka before slipping through a pass that Martial, running away from Stones, clinically despatched. Watford or Crystal Palace, who meet at Wembley on Sunday await.

Teams

Everton (4-2-3-1): Robles; Besic, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; Gibson (Mirallas, 90), McCarthy, Lennon (Deulofeu, 69), Barkley, Cleverley; Lukaku.

Manchester United (4-1-4-1): De Gea; Fosu-Mensah (Valencia, 61), Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Carrick; Lingard, Rooney, Fellaini (Herrera, 86), Martial; Rashford.

Referee: A Taylor

Man of the match: Martial

Match rating: 8/10

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