Erik ten Hag urges Man United to use FA Cup win over Liverpool as season turning point

United advance to the semi-finals after dramatic 4-3 extra-time win over their rivals at Old Trafford

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has urged his players to use Sunday's dramatic FA Cup quarter-final win over rivals Liverpool as a turning point for their season.

United looked to be heading out of the competition when Liverpool led 2-1 in regular time at Old Trafford after goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Mohamed Salah in the first half had cancelled out Scott McTominay's 10th-minute opener. However, United substitute Antony struck with three minutes remaining to force extra time.

United were again on the verge of elimination when Harvey Elliott scored for Liverpool in the 105th minute, only for Marcus Rashford to equalise for the hosts. Substitute Amad Diallo then sealed a stunning victory with a strike in the dying seconds to send United into the semi-finals, before getting sent off for a second yellow card for removing his shirt in celebration.

The victory triggered wild scenes of celebration among United fans amid a season with little to celebrate so far. Sixth in the Premier League and in danger of missing out on next season's Champions League, United were dumped out of Europe's premier competition this term by finishing bottom of their group.

But Ten Hag believes Sunday's victory can ignite United to finish the season strongly. They will now be firm favourites to reach the final after drawing Championship side Coventry City in the semi-finals. The other match will be contested by holders Manchester City and Chelsea.

"Every team needs such moments in a season and we never had that moment," Ten Hag said. "This could be that moment where the team can really get the belief and the energy so that they can do amazing things.

"And I think when you can beat Liverpool in the way we did, you can beat any opponent. So it's up to us to prove that point. I said it also on Friday, and today we did."

United have been frequently criticised this season for lacking fight but that was certainly not the case against Liverpool, and Ten Hag praised his players for their determination to get back into the match.

“It was fantastic and the team showed the resilience and determination, to win this game," he said. "We have had so many setbacks, so I’m really proud of the team. Not only in this game, but the whole season, we have so many setbacks, and they can deal with it. They are very strong, mentally, and it helps, of course, that the fans go behind us. But we energised the fans, they got behind us.”

It was the second time in three weeks that Liverpool played an extra-time match following their League Cup final victory over Chelsea, and manager Jurgen Klopp admitted his side showed the first signs of fatigue from a draining schedule, but they did not go down without a fight.

Defeat was just Liverpool's fifth in all competitions this season, two of which came with weakened sides in the group stages of the Europa League.

"That was the first time I saw my team really struggling. That's how it is, we played a lot of football recently," said Klopp. "Congratulations to United, they fought extremely hard as well."

Updated: March 18, 2024, 5:27 AM