Author Topic: Manchester United lose F.A. Cup semi-final to Everton on penalties  (Read 896 times)


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Tim Howard emerged an FA Cup spot-kick hero to wreck his old club's quintuple bid and send Everton to their first final since 1995.

After a goalless and frankly rather tepid two hours, Howard saved a woeful penalty from Manchester United record signing Dimitar Berbatov and another from Rio Ferdinand to send the Toffeemen into ecstasy.

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It also ended Sir Alex Ferguson's 100% record in last four clashes, although the Scot must have known such a scenario was a realistic possibility given the team he picked.

It had become common knowledge that Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar had not even made the trip, while Ryan Giggs was down on most people's lists of the men to be excluded as well.

Nevertheless, when the teams were announced the actual make-up of United's team took the breath away.

Federico Macheda, supersub in his two substitute appearances against Aston Villa and Sunderland, was handed his first start, Fabio da Silva his second.

Darron Gibson and Danny Welbeck their first appearances since the Carling Cup final victory over Tottenham in the same stadium seven weeks ago, while Rafael da Silva and Anderson were also included in what must have been one of the youngest starting line-ups Ferguson has ever selected.

The Everton supporters knew there could be no better chance to reach the final they crave so much.

United had one first half escape, when Ben Foster ill-advisedly tried to nip past Louis Saha inside his own penalty area, only to discover the former Red Devils striker was a bit cuter than he had bargained for.

Saha stuck out a foot and for a fleeting moment thought he had nicked the ball away from Foster, only to discover a kind bobble had allowed the England keeper to gobble it back up.

Everton also had a penalty claim waved away by referee Mike Riley, whose appointment as replacement for Steve Bennett did not meet with the approval of Moyes. However, it was difficult to argue conclusively Rafael had fouled Steven Pienaar.

Apart from that, their threat was negligible until Tim Cahill emerged from the torpor to strike a fierce low drive that Foster did well to keep out.

In sporadic bursts, United were at their free-flowing best. Yet Macheda, who started brightly, and Welbeck were both guilty of rushing passes or shots.

The nearest Ferguson's team came was when Joleon Lescott deflected a Welbeck shot wide, Rafael supplying the cross.

After the interval, United were the better team. Park Ji-sung sent one shot skimming wide before Gibson tried his luck from long range with a dipping shot Tim Howard saved without being able to hold.

If Riley is a United fan, as Moyes seemed to suggest in midweek, he had a funny way of showing it as far as Ferguson was concerned.

The failure to award a penalty when Phil Jagielka barged Welbeck over enraged the United boss, who vented his fury at every official within earshot.

In that split-second, any notion that Ferguson did not care about the FA Cup was shredded into tiny pieces and the United boss was off his seat again shortly afterwards when Anderson's piledriver flicked the roof of Howard's net.

The introduction of Dimitar Berbatov at the start of extra-time, following the earlier arrivals of Patrice Evra and Paul Scholes, gave United a more recognisable look, although it was again Cahill who nearly broke the deadlock, Foster making a fine feet-first save.

Everton then came agonisingly close when Vidic toed a shot from substitute James Vaughan away from Cahill, who was ready to slot home a tap-in.

In truth though, a goal never looked like coming.

And finally United saw their shoot-out luck run out, leaving Howard, Moyes and chairman Bill Kenwright to celebrate a day they have waited for so long to enjoy.

All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing


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