FROM WEMBLEY – Manchester United threw away a three-goal lead but prevailed on penalties against Coventry City in the FA Cup semi-finals.

The Red Devils raced into a seemingly comfortable lead but were hit by three late goals to send the match into extra-time, where VAR ruled out an extraordinary Sky Blues winner, before spot-kicks decided the shootout.

United will meet crosstown rivals Manchester City in the final for a second season running, with Erik ten Hag’s men looking to avenge their defeat from last season.

How the game unfolded

United spurned a great chance to go ahead inside five minutes. Andre Onana’s long kick was nodded on by Bruno Fernandes and into the path of Alejandro Garnacho, who slipped while trying to launch a half-volley at goal and the ball trickled wide.

Midway through the first half, United went in front. Diogo Dalot made an overlapping run outside of Garnacho, and the Portuguese full-back was able to drive a low cross into the box for Scott McTominay to tap in at the back post.

Coventry had to wait until the 40th minute for their first major opportunity, with Josh Eccles bundling past Aaron Wan-Bissaka and sending in a low ball through the six-yard box, only for Diogo Dalot to prevent Ellis Simms from scoring at the far post.

Just before the break, Rashford brought a fine save out of Bradley Collins with a driven effort from just inside the Coventry box.

And from the resulting corner, United had their second, with Harry Maguire rising highest to meet Fernandes’ delivery.

On the other side of half-time, Fernandes thought he had found the top corner with a gorgeous curling strike from range, only for the ball to whistle past the post.

Just as it looked as if Coventry were getting a grip on proceedings, they conceded a third on the counter attack. Garnacho wheeled away with the ball upfield and played it inside to Fernandes, who turned it into Marcus Rashford. He cut inside off the left wing and possession was reassumed by the United captain, whose deflected effort squeezed in.

With 20 minutes to go, Coventry’s resurgence had lift-off. Fabio Tavares’ cross found Simms completely unmarked in the box, and he stroked his shot past Onana to give the Sky Blues fans something to cheer.

And the mood around Wembley changed completely when Coventry pulled another back minutes later, with Callum O’Hare’s strike taking a huge deflection off of Wan-Bissaka and wrong-footing Onana.

Coventry went agonisingly close to a leveller when Victor Torp unleashed a thunderous volley at Onana, with the Cameroonian equal to his effort and punching it away.

In the second of six added minutes, Coventry were awarded a last-gasp penalty when Wan-Bissaka’s arm blocked Luis Binks’ cross back through the box. Haji Wright stepped up and sent Onana the wrong way to send the tie to extra-time.

Fernandes saw a thumping shot come back off the underside of the crossbar at the start of extra-time as United sought to restore their lead. At the start of the second half, Maguire marauded upfield and forced a fine save out of Collins.

United wanted a penalty of their own when the ball struck Bobby Thomas’ arm from a corner, but neither the referee nor VAR were interested.

Coventry nearly went in front on the break through Matt Godden, who was denied by a last-ditch block from Casemiro.

Another gilt-edged chance went begging for Coventry as Wright dragged a shot wide at the end of another blistering breakaway.

Simms then crashed a strike off the underside of the bar, with much of the Coventry support thinking it had initially crossed the line.

In the final minute of extra-time, the turnaround seemed complete. Coventry threw every man forward for one last counter attack, and Victor Torp turned in Wright’s cross to stun Wembley. But after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was cruelly ruled out for offside and the tie went to a penalty shootout.

Casemiro missed United’s first penalty, but O’Hare and Sheaf were also off the mark for Coventry, and Rasmus Hojlund scored the decisive spot kick to send the Red Devils into the final.

Penalty shootout

Coventry – 2

Man Utd – 4

Haji Wright – Goal

Casemiro – Miss

Victor Torp – Goal

Diogo Dalot – Goal

Callum O’Hare – Miss

Christian Eriksen – Goal

Ben Sheaf – Miss

Bruno Fernandes – Goal

N/A

Rasmus Hojlund – Goal

Haji WrightHaji Wright

Coventry were unlucky to lose / James Baylis – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Bradley Collins – 6/10 – Hard to blame him for United’s goals. Composed with the ball at his feet to try and lure the press.

CB: Bobby Thomas – 8/10 – Coventry’s calmest and most reliable defender, making a string of impressive tackles and blocks.

CB: Joel Latibeaudiere – 5/10 – Tried to carry the ball out but often turned back immediately.

CB: Liam Kitching – 5/10 – Similarly tried to show some adventure even if this was ill-advised. Both Latibeaudiere and Kitching were withdrawn around the hour mark.

RM: Milan van Ewijk – 7/10 – His wizardry on the ball was at risk of going wasted until the latter stages when he got up and supported Tavares down the right flank.

CM: Ben Sheaf – 8/10 – Tried to lead by example as well as with the captain’s armband and eventually got the better of United’s physical if porous midfield. Skied his penalty in the shootout.

CM: Josh Eccles – 5/10 – Likewise didn’t leave enough of an imprint on a United midfield that was ready to be ravaged.

LM: Jake Bidwell – 5/10 – Didn’t provide the same sort of athleticism or trickery as Van Ewijk on the opposite flank.

AM: Callum O’Hare – 7/10 – Much like Van Ewijk clearly has talent in abundance but found it hard to showcase in the Wembley spotlight at first, needing a sizeable amount of fortune for his strike to loop in off Wan-Bissaka. But from there, he dazzled and took control. Also missed in the shootout.

CF: Haji Wright – 7/10 – Made runs inside from the left channel to try and beat the offside trap. Nerves of steel from the spot.

CF: Ellis Simms – 8/10 – Took his goal extremely well. Got into good positions and kept up his intensity until eventually he struck goal.

Substitutes

SUB: Luis Binks (63′ for Kitching) – 7/10

SUB: Fabio Tavares (63′ for Latibeaudiere) – 8/10

SUB: Victor Torp (63′ for Eccles) – 7/10

SUB: Jay Dasilva (80′ for Bidwell) – 7/10

SUB: Matt Godden (106′ for Tavares) – 6/10

Subs not used: Ben Wilson (GK), Liam Kelly, Jamie Allen, Kai Andrews

Manager

Mark Robins – 7/10 – Recognised the 3-4-1-2 wasn’t working and changed to a back-four formation to attack United. Coventry then outplayed their Premier League opponents and were unlucky not to have won.

Bruno FernandesBruno Fernandes

Fernandes was Man Utd’s best player / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

GK: Andre Onana – 6/10 – Played a part in the first goal and produced a huge save to keep out Torp when Coventry were threatening to equalise before they eventually pulled level from the spot.

RB: Diogo Dalot – 7/10 – Showed an extra burst of pace to maintain United’s high line. Came up with a fine assist for McTominay’s opening goal.

CB: Casemiro – 6/10 – Tasked with filling in at centre-back due to United’s injury crisis most recently claiming Willy Kambwala. Performed well for the most part with a series of crunching tackles and passes out from the back, though did sometimes appear lost off the ball.

CB: Harry Maguire – 7/10 – Doubled United’s lead with a bullet header on the stroke of half-time. Got his large noggin on most of what Coventry threw at him, even if he looked typically clumsy on the floor.

LB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 3/10 – You can’t lay too much blame at Wan-Bissaka for O’Hare’s goal and the penalty was also a tad unlucky, but he stuck out like a sore thumb throughout the contest both when United had the ball and when they didn’t.

CM: Kobbie Mainoo – 6/10 – A lot of the time had to keep United together in a one-man midfield, such was McTominay and Fernandes’ desire to get forward.

CM: Scott McTominay – 6/10 – This rating is largely due to the fact McTominay scored the all-important breakthrough goal. For a lot of the game, he left the midfield area stranded.

RW: Alejandro Garnacho – 6/10 – Aimed to use his searing pace to get round the outside of Coventry’s stubborn backline. Lack of end product proved frustrating for United.

AM: Bruno Fernandes – 8/10 – Pulled the strings when United were in the ascendancy, worthy of his goal and assist.

LW: Marcus Rashford – 4/10 – Coventry did not appear threatened when Rashford was in possession and nor did they need to feel that way. Another empty-calories performance.

CF: Rasmus Hojlund – 5/10 – Provided negative goal threat. Tried to turn and swivel in the box to kill the game at 3-2 when he should have just hit it and Coventry found their equaliser soon after. Scored the winning penalty, at least.

Substitutes

SUB: Antony (66′ for Garnacho) – 4/10

SUB: Christian Eriksen (72′ for Mainoo) – 5/10

SUB: Amad Diallo (90′ for Rashford) – 6/10

SUB: Omari Forson (103′ for McTominay) – 6/10

Subs not used: Altay Bayindir (GK), Habeeb Ogunneye, Louis Jackson, Harry Amass, Ethan Wheatley

Manager

Erik ten Hag – 4/10 – What the hell is going on at United? They need to rip up Ten Hag’s plan and start again.

Player of the match – Ellis Simms (Coventry City)

Ellis Simms, Omari ForsonEllis Simms, Omari Forson

Simms was superb / James Baylis – AMA/GettyImages

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