Man­ches­ter Unit­ed are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Eng­land. Cup. 1/4 finals

March 17, 18:30. Old Traf­ford (Man­ches­ter)

Man­ches­ter Unit­ed



Principle meeting

For Jur­gen Klopp now, every match is one of his last. The final duel with Pep Guardi­o­la in the Pre­mier League is over, Liv­er­pool will have no more match­es with Arse­nal this sea­son. But in the league there are still, for exam­ple, a der­by with Ever­ton and a fun­da­men­tal meet­ing with oth­er neigh­bors — Man­ches­ter Unit­ed, which will take place in April.

Man­ches­ter Unit­ed defeat­ed Liv­er­pool in extra time. Online broad­cast of the FA Cup match

On Sun­day, Liv­er­pool also trav­eled to Old Traf­ford to vis­it their bit­ter ene­my, who has not yet for­got­ten the humil­i­a­tion of a year ago. Let me remind you that in March 2023, the Dev­ils were crushed at Anfield with a score of 7:0 and are def­i­nite­ly hun­gry for revenge.

Now, of course, there was no talk of any abnor­mal defeats: first­ly, the teams played in Man­ches­ter, and sec­ond­ly, Man­ches­ter Unit­ed had already won a draw in Liv­er­pool this sea­son and in gen­er­al this year looks bet­ter than last spring.

Scott McTom­i­nay’s goal.
Pho­to by Reuters

McTominay goal

The guests had seri­ous rein­force­ments: Salah final­ly ful­ly recov­ered and for the first time since Jan­u­ary 1 was in the start­ing line­up for a match in a nation­al tour­na­ment. The Egypt­ian could have opened the scor­ing in the 9th minute, but did not fin­ish off Dar­win’s cross.

How­ev­er, Unit­ed played more cheer­ful­ly at the start. Erik ten Hag made a clear empha­sis on pres­sure on the right flank of Liv­er­pool, where the vis­i­tors’ uni­ver­sal back­up Joe Gomez was forced to act. The Dev­ils missed their first attempt to score — Kelle­her did not allow Rash­ford to score. But the sec­ond result­ed in a goal: the Liv­er­pool goal­keep­er again deflect­ed the ball after Garnacho’s shot, but no one could stop McTom­i­nay.

Man­ches­ter Unit­ed’s play was clear: the hosts delib­er­ate­ly gave the ball to Liv­er­pool, caught the defend­ers on coun­ter­at­tacks and tried to active­ly put pres­sure on them. At the same time, the Dev­ils’ defen­sive line was quite low, which is why they had giant holes in the mid­dle of the field. Mainu and McTom­i­nay tried to cov­er a huge amount of space, but it was very dif­fi­cult giv­en that they were fac­ing one of the best mid­field­ers in Eng­land.

Goal by Mohamed Salah.
Pho­to by Reuters

Coup before the break

Liv­er­pool tried for quite a long time to fig­ure out what to do. At some point the pres­sure on Kelle­her’s goal sub­sided, but in the 35th minute Old Traf­ford screamed again: McTom­i­nay missed a killer chance for a dou­ble. The Scot was sure to hit, but Kelle­her regrouped and par­ried the ball away after a sharp coun­ter­at­tack from the hosts.

This moment seemed to wake up Liv­er­pool. Soon Endo scored, but the goal was can­celed due to Salah being off­side, and in the 44th minute Mac Allis­ter sent the ball into the goal with­out any objec­tions from the ref­er­ee, but with a rebound from Mainu.

A draw already seemed like a great end to a dif­fi­cult half for Liv­er­pool, but things got even bet­ter in stop­page time, with Onana deflect­ing Nunez’s shot straight at Salah to give the Reds leader the lead.

Pho­to by Reuters

Relaxation of guests

Dur­ing the break, Klopp clear­ly point­ed out Liv­er­pool’s oppo­nen­t’s weak points, because the guests played much more active­ly than before. And if in the first half Kelle­her was the hero, then in the sec­ond it was Onana. The Unit­ed goal­keep­er pulled out sev­er­al heavy balls — from Dar­win, Szo­bos­zlai, Diaz. In the 79th minute, Liv­er­pool also ruined a 5‑on‑2 lead — in that episode, the guests should have decid­ed the out­come of the quar­ter-finals, but they didn’t even get it done.

“It’s a draw.” Guardi­o­la, Klopp. Can­vas, oil. March, 2024. Pic­turesque col­umn of Kazan­sky

Man­ches­ter Unit­ed looked worse after the break and seemed doomed. The hosts had lim­it­ed resources for sal­va­tion: with the score 1:2, ten Hag replaced defend­er Maguire and the always crit­i­cized Antho­ny, who has a mon­strous per­for­mance this sea­son. But it was this change that worked: in the 87th minute, the Brazil­ian pushed every­one in the penal­ty area and equal­ized the score!

Liv­er­pool cer­tain­ly did not expect such a turn: the guests prob­a­bly assumed that the semi-final was in their pock­et. Although they had a chance to get rid of over­time: Elliott hit the post with a tricky shot. But Man­ches­ter Unit­ed still had the last word before the extra time: a few sec­onds before the whis­tle for the break, Rash­ford went one on one with Kelle­her, but missed the far cor­ner.

Crazy overtime

Extra time often turns into a for­mal­i­ty, but not this time: Man­ches­ter Unit­ed bit Liv­er­pool through­out the first 15 min­utes, but the vis­i­tors scored: Elliott was helped by a rebound.

In the final half, red Man­ches­ter need­ed at least a goal, and Unit­ed decid­ed to put all their strength and emo­tions into this peri­od. The goal did take place: Rash­ford hit Kelle­her’s goal.

Dizzy­ing foot­ball at Anfield: the last duel between Guardi­o­la and Klopp turned into a spec­ta­cle

Both Maguire and McTom­i­nay could have scored, but the unex­pect­ed hero was 21-year-old Ivo­rian Dial­lo. It was he who, at the very flag of over­time, ran with Gar­na­cho into a coun­ter­at­tack and brought Unit­ed vic­to­ry. To cel­e­brate, the African also received a yel­low card for tak­ing off his T‑shirt.

Liv­er­pool lost in a match where they believed in their own suc­cess too ear­ly. Klopp remains with­out the cov­et­ed tro­phy pok­er in the final sea­son, and Man­ches­ter Unit­ed at least par­tial­ly takes revenge for those same 0:7. Emo­tion­al­ly, this vic­to­ry is no weak­er for Man­ches­ter.