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Man United 3-3 Coventry City: Five things noticed, including what Sir Jim Ratcliffe saw



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Manchester United defeated Coventry City 4-2 on penalties as Erik ten Hag’s men advance to the FA Cup final for the second time in two seasons.

Erik ten Hag was forced to select Casemiro at centre-back to partner Harry Maguire as Manchester United took on Coventry City on a cloudy Sunday afternoon in the FA Cup semi-final.

The game started with United on the front foot, with multiple shots being blocked and Coventry very much playing on the counter-attack.

Read More: Player Ratings – Manchester United vs Coventry City (FA Cup Semi-Final)

With Ten Hag’s men getting chances, it was a low and brilliant cross from Diogo Dalot that allowed Scott McTominay to finish into an open goal at the back post. Then, just before half-time, Harry Maguire stood tall to head in a Bruno Fernandes corner to hand United a 2-0 lead going into the break.

In the second half, United continued their dominance, with Fernandes scoring just before the hour mark after some nice footwork and a deflection allowed his ball to roll over the line.

What came next was a little unbelievable. Coventry, getting one back through Ellis Simms, had life back in them, and a deflected effort added a second over the head of André Onana. Finally, their efforts were rewarded with a 90+5th-minute penalty – we were into extra time.

Extra time was a slugfest. Both teams hit the undersides of the bar, both teams had chances, and both teams were absolutely knackered. Coventry’s 120+1st-minute winner was ruled out for offside, and penalties had arrived.

Casemiro had his saved, but heroics from André Onana, as well as good penalties from Dalot, Christian Eriksen, Fernandes, and Rasmus Højlund, saw United through.

#1 – Casemiro’s audition

With Casemiro playing at centre-back, many questioned whether the pairing of the Brazilian and Maguire would leave United very much exposed at the back due to the lack of pace.

However, the pair marshalled Coventry’s attack very well in the first 45 minutes, and Maguire even got himself on the score sheet. Casemiro impressed as an auxiliary centre-half on the day, both on and off the ball.

With United leading and cruising in the second half, Casemiro had a lapse in judgement as Coventry scored their first. Ellis Simms found space to finish behind Maguire that the Brazilian should have been covering, and this started Coventry’s comeback.

Like many of his recent performances, he started well but couldn’t win the entire game, with his penalty miss only adding to this. A summer sale is looking likely.

#2 – Dalot’s brilliance

Dalot’s recent performances have been questioned at times, but United’s Player of the Season so far was nothing short of fantastic against Coventry when his manager needed him the most.

His assist for McTominay’s goal was of the highest quality, but he also had several defensive moments where he nullified Coventry’s attack. None of Coventry’s goals during the 90 minutes came from his side.

He was one of a few players who showed energy for the entire 120 minutes of football, consistently making lung-busting runs.

#3 – Mainoo suits Wembley

“He has done brilliant in the last few months. We have seen all parts of his play; he’s smart, the way he covers [ground] and the way he has got a couple of important goals,” Roy Keane told ITV ahead of the game.

It was Mainoo’s third game at Wembley Stadium following his two appearances with England at the national ground last month, and he has been superb all three times.

Mainoo came off in the 71st minute, just after Coventry scored their first goal, and United immediately lost much of its control. This decision may have killed Ten Hag’s career at Old Trafford.

#4 – What Sir Jim Ratcliffe saw

Before United’s game, Sir Jim Ratcliffe hit a new personal best during the London Marathon, achieving a brilliant 4:30:52 time for the 26.3-mile race. He then cleaned himself up and headed to Wembley Stadium in time for the second half of the game.

The mentality required to run a marathon at the age of 71 before heading off to Wembley to watch the football club you just acquired is brilliant, and it is something United have been missing in the last few seasons.

Beyond this, Ratcliffe saw his team’s complete collapse. Individual players such as Dalot and Maguire were nothing short of brilliant across the 120 minutes, but for the rest, it will have been an eye-opening experience for the new co-owner of the club.

#5 – Never an easy day out

It has become a pattern this season with Erik ten Hag in charge that no matter who United are playing, they make it a hard day for themselves.

Whether they put themselves 1-0 down early in a game or allowed Coventry to claw back two goals from an easy 3-0 winning position, United certainly challenged themselves during the final 30 minutes of regulation time—and they paid for it dearly as the game went into extra time.

United are lucky. They shot themselves in the foot and, in all honesty, don’t deserve to be in the final. Thank you, André Onana, Rasmus Højlund, and Ben Sheaf, for launching your penalty into row Z.