Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic against Brighton helped Manchester United make it through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Manchester United went through the final four of the FA Cup, after defeating fellow Premier League outfit Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 at the Old Trafford on Saturday.
Coming into the quarterfinals, United were under severe pressure, having been dumped out of the UEFA Champions League a few days ago and the onus was on them to turn things around.
But they struggled to produce anything worth of note in what was a tepid first period, until Nemanja Matic swung in a peach of a cross for Romelu Lukaku to head home in the 37th minute. And with seven minutes left on the clock, the Serbian midfielder got on the end of an Ashley Young free-kick to nod it home and put the game to bed and seal progression to the next round.
Bring on the semi-finals 👊 pic.twitter.com/Ryci0MgS6e
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 17, 2018
It was not an eye-catching performance by any means from Jose Mourinho’s side, but they did manage to bounce back from the midweek disaster and remain in the hunt for a trophy. And here’s how we rated the performances of the Manchester United stars on the night;
Sergio Romero: 7/10
Coming in for David De Gea for the cup game, the Argentine stopper ensured his record of not conceding a single goal in this season’s FA Cup remained intact. Made a good save to deny Lewis Dunk in the first period with the score at 0-0 and stopped Jurgen Locadia’s fierce effort at 1-0. Solid.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 17, 2018
Antonio Valencia: 5.5/10
Got forward regularly on the right side, but the end product was never really there from the captain. Showed good positioning and defensive awareness against the threat of Locadia at the back though.
Eric Bailly: 6.5/10
The Ivorian hasn’t done a lot wrong since his return from injury and was once again in the thick of things, making a number of key interceptions and blocks to keep Brighton at bay. Chose to play it safe when he had the ball at his feet.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
Should have opened the scoring in the first period, but his effort struck the post. The out-of-favour England international was solid and secure at the back throughout the game, with his timely block on Locadia being a particular moment of importance.
Luke Shaw: 5/10
The former Southampton man was handed a start at left-back ahead of Ashley Young, but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Played an important role in the lead up to the opening goal and showed good intent going down the left-flank on a couple of occasions. The visitors did get in a few crosses from his side, but unlucky to have been subbed off at half-time.
Scott McTominay: 5.5/10
Returning to the starting line-up after sitting out of the Champions League defeat, the academy graduate did not have the best of games. Misplaced passes, caught in possession in the middle at times but got stuck in and did the defensive side of things decently.
Nemanja Matic: 8.5/10
The Serbian midfieder was the beating heart of the United team on Saturday. Played with typical gusto in the midfield, breaking up play, winning possession and was always looking to put his team on the front-foot with his distribution. Set up the opening goal for Lukaku with a sublime cross, before heading home his first goal at Old Trafford to put the game to bed.
Juan Mata: 5/10
Had a couple of bright moments here and there, with his link-up with Anthony Martial in the first period that led to an attempt at goal being a highlight. But struggled to make a greater impact against a physical Brighton defence and was subbed off eventually.
Jesse Lingard: 5/10
The academy graduate found it hard to get going on Saturday. Moved around well from his No.10 role but could not make any sort of impact on the proceedings. Given how he raises his level of performances for cup games, it was a disappointing night out for the Englishman.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
A mixed outing for the Frenchman who was making his first start after return from injury. Showed positive intent each time he was on the ball and tried to make things happen. However, the final ball was lacking more often than not. Faded after the break.
Romelu Lukaku: 7.5/10
As has been the case often in recent weeks, the Belgian was once again a rare bright spot on the field for the Red Devils. Impeccable work rate as usual, held up the ball really well and took his chance brilliantly to hand his team the crucial lead in the first period.
Lukaku has now scored 25 goals for the season in all competitions and continued his record of having scored in all FA Cup games for United this term.
5 – Romelu Lukaku has either scored or assisted in each of his last five appearances for Man Utd. Leading.
v Chelsea ⚽️🅰️
v Crystal Palace ⚽️
v Liverpool 🅰️
v Sevilla ⚽️
v Brighton ⚽️
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 17, 2018
Ashley Young: 6/10
Replaced Shaw at half-time. Lovely free-kick delivery to find Matic at the back post for the second goal. Seemed to have picked up an injury, but soldiered on.
Marcus Rashford: 5.5/10
Came on for Mata in 73rd minute. Was full of running and energy.
Marouane Fellaini: N/A
Late substitute for Lingard.