Manchester United set up a first FA Cup final against Manchester City after beating Brighton in a tense penalty shootout 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.
United had to show reserves of stamina and resilience to come through against a fine Brighton side who went into this match as favourites in the eyes of many.
And in the aftermath of their embarrassing Europa League collapse against Sevilla, there was additional pressure on Ten Hag’s men.
It proved a stop-start affair with too many interruptions to allow any proper rhythm, although there were moments of excitement at either end before matters were settled from the spot.
United now have the opportunity to go toe-to-toe City in the final, an encounter both sides – and the city of Manchester – will relish.
It certainly adds extra sheen to this season for United, who are in a good position to secure a place in next season’s Champions League via the league and now have the chance to add a second piece of silverware against their arch-rivals at Wembley.
Brighton’s players did their best to console a tearful March after his penalty miss – a heartbreaking moment for a man who has been such an integral part of the Seagulls’ superb rise.
March’s name was chanted loudly amid the disappointment felt by Brighton’s fans – and the pain will be even more acute for Roberto de Zerbi’s side after coming into this match in superb form.
Brighton had chances to reach their first FA Cup Final since losing to United in 1983, forcing De Gea into saves from Alexis Mac Allister and Julio Enciso and seeing Danny Welbeck head a presentable opportunity over, but overall could not quite summon their usual momentum.
They did at least have the game’s outstanding player in the superb Moises Caicedo, but that will be no consolation after a cruel defeat.
There is still plenty for this exciting Brighton side to play for in the remainder of the season as they are in contention for a European place – but this will be a bitter pill to swallow with hopes and expectations so high.
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