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Ten Hag’s Men up for First Ever Manchester Derby in FA Cup Final after a Nail-Biting Shootout Victory | Three Crucial Lessons Learnt From the Brighton-Man United game

Brighton vs Manchester United

We learnt three crucial things as Manchester United secured their spot in the FA Cup final against Manchester City with a nail-biting penalty shootout victory over Brighton & Hove Albion after a goalless draw following extra time. The Red Devils secured a hard-fought 7-6 shootout victory against the Seagulls at Wembley.

Solly March’s unsuccessful penalty proved to be the deciding factor in the game. Despite being knocked out of the Europa League by Sevilla just days before, Manchester United displayed resilience and determination to overcome a strong Brighton team.

Brighton, Manchester United
Image Obtained via The Independent

Despite Roberto De Zerbi’s side dominating possession, both teams created equal chances with Marcus Rashford coming close to scoring in the first period of extra time. The semifinal was an end-to-end, tense affair with missed opportunities on both sides.

The Red Devils will face their city rivals, Manchester City who outclassed Sheffield United 3-0 in the first semifinal on Saturday, for the first ever all Manchester FA Cup final derby on June 3.

1. United Team Respond To Ten Hag

Following their disappointing defeat at Sevilla, manager Erik ten Hag urged his players to show more character and passion in this semi-final, and they responded in kind. Despite their recent frailties, the Red Devils have a wealth of talent within their ranks and were a persistent threat throughout the game.

For United, this victory feels like redemption, and they will take immense satisfaction from the spirit their players showed to recover in such style. While their priority remains qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, the prospect of winning the FA Cup and claiming a trophy at Wembley is a mark of Ten Hag’s early success in the role.

2. Brighton Face Wembley Heartbreak 

The Seagulls were left heartbroken after their defeat in the semi-finals at Wembley. Despite being the clear favourites with bookmakers, their lack of a ruthless cutting edge ultimately cost them the game. The absence of their teenage striker, Evan Ferguson, due to injury, was a major blow to their chances.

Brighton, Manchester United, FA Cup
Image Obtained via The Guardian

However, their performance on Sunday was a reflection of their progress this season. They reached the FA Cup final four in 2019, but were unable to put up a fight against the Cityzens. This time around, under the guidance of De Zerbi, they were much more competitive.

3. De Gea With A Man Of The Match Performance 

David de Gea may not be a flawless goalkeeper, but his mentality is unquestionable. Just three days after his worst performance in the Europa League, the Spanish shot-stopper redeemed himself with four top-notch saves in a nerve-wracking 0-0 draw against the Seagulls.

David de Gea
(Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Though Brighton appeared to be the better side throughout the match, they lacked the ability to finish and De Gea’s heroics helped Manchester United win 7-6 on penalties, despite not saving the decisive penalty that Solly March sent over the bar.

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The defeat will be a tough setback for De Zerbi and his players, especially with a tough final nine games of the season ahead of them. They can still finish in fifth or sixth spot but must be wary of Liverpool’s recent form, as well as competition from Aston Villa and Tottenham for a coveted European spot. They have been one of the standout stories of the season in the Premier League and failing to secure a European spot would be a scant reward for their impressive efforts.

United fans will be pleased with their team’s progress under the demanding Dutchman, especially after a four-season drought without reaching a domestic final before his arrival. The Manchester derby in January was overshadowed by controversy, with United’s comeback win marred by debate over an offside goal from Bruno Fernandes. The talent within their ranks suggests that they are back in contention for more silverware.

Follow AD for the Latest Matchday Updates on Manchester United.

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