Manchester United beats Man City 2-1 to win FA Cup final, qualifies for Europa League

With the win, Manchester United closed in on Arsenal’s 13 FA Cup titles to secure its 12th and also earn a spot in the Europa League next season.

Published : May 25, 2024 21:27 IST , Chennai - 4 MINS READ

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the FA Cup.
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the FA Cup. | Photo Credit: Action Images via Reuters

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the FA Cup. | Photo Credit: Action Images via Reuters

Erik ten Hag made a convincing case to be spared the sack as Manchester United upset Manchester City to take the FA Cup with a shock 2-1 victory in Saturday’s final.

Ten Hag was reportedly set to be dismissed regardless of the result at Wembley after a troubled campaign that even the United manager described as “terrible” this week.

But United’s hierarchy might be having second thoughts after Ten Hag’s tactical masterclass ruined City’s history bid.

City was the hot favourite to win a second successive Premier League and FA Cup double.

Yet Ten Hag found a way to neutralise Pep Guardiola’s side as first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo put United on course to win the FA Cup for the first time in eight years.

Jeremy Doku squeezed an 87th-minute strike past Andre Onana’s weak attempted save, but it was too late to rescue City.

Having ended a turbulent season on a high note, if Ten Hag’s two-year reign does end, his exit would provoke memories of fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal’s Old Trafford departure.

Van Gaal was fired just two days after United’s FA Cup final victory against Crystal Palace in 2016.

Ten Hag will hope a more apt comparison is Alex Ferguson’s 1990 FA Cup final win against Palace, which kick-started his remarkable run after calls for his sacking earlier that season.

Ferguson was in attendance as a match labelled Ten Hag’s funeral turned into a triumph.

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United shareholder Jim Ratcliffe, who has control of football operations at Old Trafford, was also watching from the stands alongside co-owners Joel and Avie Glazer.

Ten Hag ended United’s six-year trophy drought by winning the League Cup last year and has now avenged its 2-1 loss to City in the FA Cup final 12 months ago despite finishing 31 points behind the champions this term.

Stay of execution

United will also qualify for the Europa League, avoiding a first season without European action since 2014-15.

They benefitted from an unusually tepid City performance as its double bid fell flat in its first domestic defeat since losing at Aston Villa in the league 171 days ago.

Last weekend, City became the first team to win the Premier League in four consecutive seasons.

But Guardiola’s men looked hungover after the celebrations that followed its sixth title in seven years.

City was furious when its strong penalty appeal was rejected inside the first minute after Lisandro Martinez’s shove sent Erling Haaland sprawling.

Content to sit deep with all 11 men behind the ball, United stifled City impressively and gleefully accepted its gift-wrapped opener in the 30th minute.

ALSO READ: Manchester United wins FA Cup: List of FA Cup titles won by Man United after it beat City in 2023-24 final

Diogo Dalot’s punt forward should have been dealt with by Josko Gvardiol, but the left-back hesitated as he looked for an offside flag.

Gvardiol headed the ball over City keeper Stefan Ortega, who had rashly rushed off his line, leaving Garnacho with the simple task of tapping into the empty net as Ten Hag clenched his fist in celebration.

Garnacho, 19, was the first teenager to score in the FA Cup final since Cristiano Ronaldo for United against Millwall 20 years ago.

Just nine minutes later, the 19-year-old Mainoo punished more sloppy City defending.

Garnacho advanced unchecked down the right wing and found Fernandes, whose superb first-time pass reached the unmarked Mainoo for a clinical close-range finish.

City pushed harder after the interval, but although Doku’s shot slipped through Onana’s grasp to set up a tense finale, it wasn’t enough to deny United.

As the final seconds ticked away, Ten Hag stood in the sunshine nervously waiting to celebrate a dramatic win that could earn an unexpected stay of execution or serve as his final fling.

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