2015-16

FA Cup Semi-Final Match Report: Everton 1-2 Manchester United

evertoncrestToffees’ hearts broken by Martial at Wembley.manunited

Everton 1 (0) – (1) 2 Manchester United

Smalling (o.g.) 75′                  Fellaini 34′

                                                            Martial 90+2′

Wembley (Attendance:86,064)

Everton’s 2015/16 FA Cup dreams are over after falling to a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in their semi-final at Wembley.

Anthony Martial’s second half injury time winner broke Evertonian hearts as the Toffees’ defensive frailties reared their ugly head for the umpteenth time this season.

Chris Smalling’s own goal had given the Blues hope of reaching their first cup final since 2009 after Marouane Fellaini’s first half opener.

Romelu Lukaku also saw a penalty saved by United goalkeeper David De Gea as the Everton striker squandered four massive chances to fire Roberto Martinez‘s men into the final of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition.

Martinez rotated his starting eleven for the clash down with London, with club captain Phil Jagielka passed fit after a two-week layoff with a hamstring strain – the centre half being joined by Muhamed Besic, Tom Cleverley and Darron Gibson in being handed starting berths due to injuries and suspension.

And, if the quartet were expecting a low key start to bed themselves into proceedings, they were wrong.

A frenetic opening quarter of an hour saw no fewer than six chances fall between the two sides as each looked for an elusive early goal.

Fellaini draw a routine save from Joel Robles from a Daley Blind corner and, from Robles’ kick forward, Lukaku saw his first sight of goal.

The Everton striker outmuscled Michael Carrick and Timothy Fosu-Mensah before bearing down on goal but, after rounding De Gea, the 22-year-old saw his effort cleared off the line by former Blue Wayne Rooney, much to the chagrin of the on-rushing Cleverley.

Marcus Rojo nodded wide from a Rooney free kick, while Ross Barkley tested the palms of De Gea from 20 yards.

Jesse Lingard then forced Robles into an impressive save after Rooney’s ball over the top, before Lukaku watched on as his right foot effort was held by De Gea as the sides traded blows.

Martial blazed wildly over following Lingard’s acute through ball, while Marcus Rashford’s first time volley was dealt with by Robles from a Fellaini knockdown.

United were increasingly finding themselves in the ascendancy as the half wore on, and Robles was again on hand to deny a curling effort from Rooney just past the half hour mark.

Moments later, however, Louis Van Gaal’s men’s pressure finally told as they took a deserved lead.

Martial burst inside the penalty area and his low cross evaded Jagielka and Gibson to find Fellaini six yards out – the Belgian midfielder stroking home despite John Stones‘ best attempts to block his shot.

Everton supporters made their feelings known at half-time over their side’s failure to impose themselves on proceedings as the first 45 drew to a close, but a pivotal moment 10 minutes after the interval paved the way for a flurry of Blues’ attacks.

Lukaku found Barkley in space just inside United’s half and, after the midfielder had traded passes with Aaron Lennon, the 22-year-old was hauled to the turf by Fosu-Mensah. Referee Anthony Taylor pointed immediately to the spot.

Lukaku stepped forth to take the spot-kick, but was aghast as De Gea guessed right – the Spaniard diving low to his right to turn Lukaku’s shot around the post.

Ironically, that miss galvanised fans and players alike as Martinez’s charges enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure and possession.

Barkley saw a free kick held by De Gea, Cleverley fired high and wide after Lennon’s jinking run down the right to the byline, and Lukaku nodded over from Cleverley’s own centre as the Blues pressed for an equaliser.

And, with 15 minutes of the encounter remaining, they got their just rewards.

Everton worked themselves across the width of the box through Barkley, Cleverley, Lukaku and substitute Gerard Deulofeu, who had come on just moments beforehand.

The winger set his sights, picking out Lukaku, and fizzed a cross across the six yard area – the ball ricocheting off Unied defender Smalling past a helpless De Gea to the delight of Everton fans at that end of the stadium.

Sensing a winner, Everton pressed again through two lightning quick counter attacks.

Barkley sent Deulofeu sprinting down the left wing and, after the Spaniard had tied Antonio Valencia up in knots, saw his low shot palmed away by De Gea with Lukaku lurking.

Another breathtaking attack then almost sent Lukaku clear, but his right foot strike was deflected behind by a stretching Fellaini.

It looked for all the world as if a pulsating clash was set for another 30 minutes at least but, as has become the norm for Everton this season, a last minute capitulation was to occur.

Jagielka tussled with Ander Herrera for a pass from Martial 18 yards from goal but, as Jagielka lost his footing, Martial followed his own pass into the gap vacated by Everton’s number six.

The French striker glided past Leighton Baines and Stones before sidefooting low to Robles’ left, breaking Everton’s spirits in the process.

Everton’s players slumped to the floor at the final whistle in despair. Just four more league matches await of a sorry, bewildering campaign.

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Tom Power is a 28 year old trainee journalist and assistant editor of NSNO.


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