Man United survive dramatic comeback to beat Coventry on penalties in FA Cup semi-final

Championship side recover from 3-0 down to level scores before losing in shoot-out at Wembley Stadium

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Manchester United survived a dramatic comeback by second-tier Coventry City before winning a penalty shoot-out on Sunday to reach the FA Cup final.

The Premier League side appeared to be coasting to victory at Wembley Stadium after Bruno Fernandes's deflected strike made it 3-0 just before the hour mark, following first-half goals from Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire.

But Coventry gave themselves some hope when Ellis Simms finished well in the 71st minute before Callum O'Hare's strike took a huge deflection off Aaron Wan-Bissaka and looped into the back of the net, with nine minutes to go.

And Coventry fans were sent into delirium deep into stoppage time when Haji Wright finished coolly from the penalty spot after Wan-Bissaka had been penalised for handball.

United captain Bruno Fernandes almost put his team back in front in the first half of extra-time when he blasted against the crossbar from the edge of the box after a cut-back by substitute Amad Diallo.

In the second period, it was the Championship side's turn to hit the woodwork when Simms wriggled free in the box and smashed a shot against the underside of the bar with the ball bouncing just short of the line.

And Coventry thought they had grabbed a sensational last-gasp winner when Wright played a low cross in for Victor Torp, who poked home from six yards out. But it was not to be for Coventry when Wright was ruled offside by VAR by the slightest of margins.

It looked Coventry might still be heading for one of the all-time great FA Cup victories when goalkeeper Bradley Collins saved a woeful Casemiro penalty, before Wright once again scored from the spot.

But Callum O'Hare saw his kick saved by Andre Onana while Ben Sheaf blazed over the bar to leave United one penalty away from victory, which Rasmus Hojlund finished in style.

United will once again face Manchester City in next month's final with Pep Guardiola's side having come on top last season on the way to a historic treble.

City defeated Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday in the other semi-final thanks to a late winner from Bernardo Silva, three days after losing to Real Madrid on penalties in the Champions League quarter-finals.

“We found a way,” said United defender Maguire to ITV after the match. “We started the game really well and then conceded a sloppy goal. We were unfortunate to concede the second goal.

“I think the penalty was so hard but all credit to Coventry. They made it tough for us in the second half of extra time.

“It sums up our season, we had great control and played well for 60 minutes but then we conceded out of nothing.

“Then I don't know, it seems like the world wanted Coventry to go on and do it. We showed great character to stick with it and it was important to win the shoot-out.”

Captain Fernandes was more brutal in his assessment of where United need to improve next season. “We'll never be successful if we [only] win the FA Cup,” said the Portuguese midfielder.

“The standard of this club is much higher than what we have been doing. We have to do better in the league, the League Cup and in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Coventry manager Mark Robins, a former United striker in his playing days, said his players “put themselves right up there in the history of the football club” following their remarkable fightback.

“To come back from 3-0 down is incredible,” he said. “Some good quality football. We were really disappointed at the end.

“We hit the bar and had a goal disallowed. It was a really difficult game. We lose Tavares to injury and had to make another change.

“If you can attack them you can really hurt them. I can't be prouder of them. They did fantastically well. I think we've made Coventry proud.

“You get to penalties and it's a lottery. You don't hold anything against anyone if they show the courage to take one in a cauldron.”

As for the disallowed goal in extra-time, Robins added: “It's a toe nail. Those lines are the bane of our life. You don't get a chance often to go to an FA Cup final and we were really close.

“I'm really proud of them. We've just said to them they've put themselves right up there in the history of the football club. People will talk about this game for a long time.”

Updated: April 22, 2024, 7:35 AM