In a must win game in the midst of a tough campaign, the youth of Manchester United once again pressed the team into a mighty victory as they triumphed over West Ham United in a FA Cup quarter-final replay. United in winning, now off to the semi-final tie with Everton at Wembley, showed the type of performance that supporters have been clamoring for all season.
Manchester United fans are quick to remember that David De Gea was a minute and a faulty fax machine away from leaving the club in the summer, and after another stand out performance are ever more grateful for that calamity. Notching a total of eight saves, including a heart stopping double save as West Ham threw everything at United in the closing minutes easily ensured a Man of the Match performance for the Spanish keeper, as well as United’s place at Wembley.
Two of the stand-out stars from this season, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, once again were instrumental in United’s win. With five shots between them, the young duo spearheaded United’s attack and were a constant thorn in the side of West Ham’s defenders. Rashford scored a goal of a lifetime, aided by a cutting through ball from Martial, cutting in on James Tomkins before launching a clinical curling shot into the top corner.
Martial was also responsible for Marouane Fellaini’s tip in goal that ensured United’s victory, making the initial shot that the Belgian tipped in.
Lining up as a fullback, Fosu-Mensah was once again all over the pitch in a commanding performance. Hardly staying relegated to the touchline, the teenager consistently found himself in areas of influence as he sent in crosses, made tackles in the midfield and box, and was a dominating presence in the air. If there was a segment of the pitch that United needed influence in, the feisty youngster was not far behind.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from United’s performance was the style of attack displayed. After facing many complaints throughout the season of a tepid, uninspiring attack that rarely took chances the youth led United were blistering in victory. 10 shots, 17 fouls, 15 tackles and 56% possession were the key stat takeaways from the game. The main stat though was an intangible as United took every half chance thrown their way.
United had near misses off instinctual crosses by Fosu-Mensah (fluffed by Jesse Lingard), through balls to a marauding Fellaini (just tipped over the bar), and set pieces designed to continually see men inside the box.
United weren’t perfect, but they were entertaining and they won in style. They now can take their season to Wembley in an effort of FA Cup success.