Brighton and Hove Albion vs Manchester United Moises Caicedo Bruno FernandesThe FA Cup

Mik Bowers. Dazn Bet’s very own football fanatic, and unashamed Man-U fan, brings us regular highlights of his favourite games. If you’ve missed the game, or just want a reminder, then Mik’s got you covered. Focusing mainly on the FA Cup, The Premier League and occasional games from the major European tournaments, Mik gives us his thoughts on the matches.

Manchester United battle to victory

Jadon Sancho and Moises Caicedo Brighton vs Manchester United

Injury hit Manchester United booked their place in the final of the FA cup with an ugly win over a very spirited Brighton team. Brighton could have and probably should have gone through if only for the saves of David De Gea. De Gea, who had a nightmare in Sevilla last week, was called upon many times during the game and pulled off a string of fine saves to keep United in the tie.

At the other end, the Brighton keeper had very little to do, but when called on made a couple of important saves

If this was a boxing match, then the judges ringside would have given the match to Brighton. They were the more creative, had more chances and always looked the more dangerous. If only for the rules of extra time and penalties and not a match-side decision by 3 judges, then United would have been out!

The win sets up a tie against Manchester’s other team, Manchester City, for the first time since the FA Cup began with the FA Cup Final planned for Saturday 3rd June at Wembley.

Spirited Brighton

Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelöf, Man United’s Swedish International, both had great games with Luke Shaw playing centre half in a makeshift defense. Harry Maguire was out (suspended) and both Varane and Martinez are still unavailable through injury, although Varane may be a possibility for the FA Cup Final.

Brighton always looked the more lively and could have booked their place in the final if it wasn’t for De Gea. On another day, same team could have easily got through a weakened United

Some of United’s key players didn’t perform at all, and Ten Hag’s men did well to get through 120 minutes of football without conceding. If Brighton had scored during the game, I doubt very much United had anything in their locker to reply

Kaora Mitoma, Brighton’s Japanese winger, caused the United defence problems down the left all afternoon and with Solly March providing the width down Brighton’s right, United had their hands full. Add Alexis Mac Allister, the Argentinian International, in Brighton’s midfield, you can see why they are in the top half of the Premiership table.

Man of the match Moises Caicedo was brilliant all game and probably didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. But, if you can’t score after 120 minutes of play, then that leaves the final option. It’s also worth noting that Brighton have never won a competitive match at Wembley, a point that wouldn’t have been lost on the Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi.

Dreaded Penalties

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof scores the winning goal

Much like England, Manchester United have not done well over the years in penalty shoot-outs. Last time they had a penalty shoot-out, Man Utd lost to Villareal in the Europa League in 2021.

And although David De Gea pulled off a string of fine saves during the 120 minutes, he too has a pretty poor record as a penalty stopper! So, the favour was definitely with Brighton as the game went to extra time then the dreaded penalty shoot-out

Brighton won the toss and decide to go first. What followed was a masterclass of penalties. Pretty much everyone unstoppable until Robert Sanchez, Brighton’s goalkeeper, got his hand to Marcel Sabitzers effort. A stronger hand would have kept it out but the shot managed to find the back of the net to make it 5 a piece on penalties. Adam Webster and Wout Weghorst then took the tie to 6 each. Solly March, who had a brilliant game for Brighton, then put his shot into row Z giving Victor Lindelöf the chance to score and take United to the FA Cup Final. Lindelöf calmly slotted the ball into the top right, out of reach of the Brighton goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez

Historic Final

Lindelöf’s strike puts Man Utd into the final of the FA Cup for the 21st time. This, however, will be the first time they face their noisy neighbours from the other side of Manchester in what is a pretty historic clash. This, the first time both Manchester’s face each other in the FA Cup Final

United have won 12 of their previous FA Cup Final clashes, the last one against Crystal Palace in 2016. Manchester City have been in 11 FA Cup Finals, winning 6, the last in 2019 when they easily beat Watford 6 – 0

Manchester United already have one piece of silverware after beating Newcastle in the Carabao cup. A second piece plus a position in the top 4 would be a very successful season for Erik ten Hag’s men. But standing before them are a very confident, very capable Manchester City side who are still looking at completing the treble!

Roberto De Zerbi hugs Solly March after missing his penalty FA Cup Semi-Final

My verdict

Brighton should consider themselves very unlucky not to be facing Manchester City in the FA Cup Final come June. They played the better football and had better chances. United managed to scrape through on penalties against a team they should be beating pretty comfortably if they have ambitions to win the the Premier League.  Having said that, Brighton couldn’t score in 120 minutes so it was left to penalties to decide the tie and everyone knows, anything can happen in penalties. If the same players took them again today, we would get a very different outcome (probably) Ten Hag and the Manchester United faithful won’t complain though, they are through to another FA Cup Final!