|Image from The Guardian|
After a point of time it was painful for Manchester United supporters to watch how their team played against Norwich city. Surely, it was the game of the season for Norwich City with relegation almost certain in the Premier League and they played like that. While Manchester United clearly lacked depth and quality in the line up which started.
Odion Ighalo and Todd Cantwell scored for both Manchester United and Norwich City respectively but it was Harry Maguire’s goal right at the end of extra time which helped Manchester United extend their unbeaten run to 14 games.
The first half was one of few chances, with neither side recording a single shot on target showcasing conservative approach. Harry Maguire made a solid block to deny Lukas Rupp, while Odion Ighalo could not get a shot on goal against a stubborn Norwich defence who closed down all spaces for Manchester United’s attack. Juan Mata deflected Luke Shaw’s left-wing cross into his half and Ighalo’s hooked volley beat Tim Krul from point-blank range who made a regulatory save.
Finally, Manchester United found the breakthrough six minutes into the second half. A defensive mix up saw the ball fall kindly to Ighalo, who hooked his shot past Tim Krul to put United in front and make it five goals in his four starts for the Red Devils. Norwich were unlucky not to snatch an equaliser, as Alexander Tettey’s header rebounded off his unfortunate teammate Aaron Godfrey. But the Canaries earned their just rewards not long after, when Todd Cantwell drove his shot hard into the bottom corner to level it up at Carrow Road. Solskjaer threw on Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic as United looked to avoid extra-time and the momentum shifted back to his side when Norwich defender Timm Klose was sent off for pulling down Ighalo on the edge of the box in the 89th minute.
The hosts survived six additional minutes to force extra time thanks to successive Krul saves to deny substitutes Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood. Norwich were again grateful to Krul in the 22nd minute of extra time as he clawed away a Maguire header and then turned behind a fierce effort from Bruno Fernandes.
United are through to their 30th FA Cup semi-final, more than any other club in the history of the competition. While the focus has been on their top-four chase, their narrow victory keeps them on track for a FA Cup and Europa League double. Their cup run over, Norwich’s hopes of salvaging something positive from the campaign look slim. Daniel Farke’s men are six points adrift of safety with seven games left.
Key Facts from Opta
– Manchester United have reached their 30th FA Cup semi-final, more than any other team in the competition.
– The Red Devils have won 11 of their last 13 away games at Norwich in all competitions (L2), winning each of their last four.
– Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the first manager to make six substitutions in a competitive match in English football.
– Cantwell’s seventh goal of the season ended Man Utd’s run of 448 minutes without conceding in the FA Cup, last conceding in last season’s quarter-final against Wolves.
– Ighalo has scored in all four of his starts for Man Utd (five goals), scoring with his first shot in this match, with what was the game’s first shot on target.