Manchester United set up a first FA Cup final against Manchester City after beating Brighton 7-6 in a tense penalty shootouts at a rain-lashed Wembley Stadium.
In a match that finished goalless after extra time it fell to United defender Victor Lindelof to score the decisive spot-kick after Solly March sent his effort high over the bar.
The result means Erik ten Hag’s side have reached their second domestic final of the season, having won the Carabao Cup in February.
In a scrappy semi-final that fell short of expectations, both goalkeepers excelled with David de Gea making several fine saves and Brighton’s Robert Sanchez brilliantly turning away Marcus Rashford’s deflected effort in extra time.
March’s miss came after 12 successful penalties, before Lindelof stepped up to set up a mouth-watering all-Manchester encounter back at the national stadium on 3 June.
With City’s form this season, the pair with the Red Devils may be seen in some quarters as, perhaps, a good omen for their ‘Treble Chance.’ It however remains to be seen how United who got bumped off the Europa League by Sevilla last week will easily give up another chance to win the cherished FA Cup, knowing that the Premier League title was out of their reach.
…Step up Osimhen Interest even as Others Lurk in the Wing
With the on-going football season entering its home stretch Manchester United have stepped up their interest in luring Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen from Napoli to Old Trafford in the summer transfer window.
United along with Chelsea, Arsenal and lately, Bayern Munich have shown interest in the former Lille of France forward but reports in UK’s Daily Starindicate that the Red Devils are even more desperate than before after another scouting trip to Italy last week.
Reds representatives were in Naples on Wednesday for the Serie A leaders’ Champions League quarter-final second leg clash against AC Milan. Although Napoli went down 2-1 on aggregate, Osimhen was on target in the second leg, which ended 1-1. That made it 26 goals in 31 games this season for the Super Eagles top striker.
With the current price tag on Osimhen by Napoli put at £150m, the club is yet to open talks on a new deal with the Nigerian international, who has two years left on the contract he signed in September 2020 on his £70million arrival from Lille.
The delay, according to the tabloid, comes down to aggressive pursuit of the star by the Manchester United with the Italians not against the idea of cashing in now.
And the fact Erik ten Hag and staff are still monitoring Osimhen’s form so closely indicates they view him as an authentic alternative to their top target Harry Kane this summer.
United are expected to lead the chase for England and Tottenham all-time record goal-scorer Kane – should he refuse to extend his contract in N17 and force the North Londoners to sell rather than lose him on a free a year later.
But the Reds are wary that Spurs Chairman, Daniel Levy, could drag his heels on any transfer negotiations as he holds out for at least £100million.
Ten Hag’s need for a prolific world-class striker is clearer than ever after last week’s Europa League disaster and, whoever owns United come June, they will need to get the Dutchman one.
Kane may guarantee goals galore but, at 31, he is entering the twilight of his career. That makes Osimhen, who will cost a similar amount, a more attractive long-term investment.
But, at the same time, unlike in the hunt for Kane, the Old Trafford hierarchy face fierce competition from all their big rivals – home and abroad – for the African sensation. Which is why Champions League football next season is imperative for Ten Hag’s troops, whose only route left to qualify for Europe’s premier cup competition is via a top-four league finish.
United still reeling from last week’s Europa League quarter-final thumping at Sevilla. However, the Carabao Cup winners were sitting fourth in the Premier League table coming into the weekend. They also survived a shoutout with Brighton to set up a Manchester Derby FA Cup final with City on June 3.