A stoppage-time goal from Anthony Martial sent Manchester United into their first FA Cup final in nine years as they beat Everton at Wembley.
Louis van Gaal’s side dominated the first half of an entertaining semi-final and deservedly led through former Toffee Marouane Fellaini – only for Everton to come back after the break, Romelu Lukaku seeing his penalty saved before Chris Smalling’s own-goal levelled the tie.
But it was left for Martial to provide the heroics with just moments remaining to seal a 2-1 win for United.
Both managers were desperate for success given their supposed vulnerable positions but it was van Gaal and not Roberto Martinez who was left smiling at the final whistle.
“It’s fantastic,” the Dutchman said. “We see the joy in the eyes of our players, which is fantastic to see, but also for the fans.”
Van Gaal also criticised referee Anthony Taylor. “I think we deserved to go into the final, because I think the referee… we didn’t have any fouls in our benefit and he changed the match I think. We had so many chances, we could have finished it much earlier,” he said.
United goalkeeper David de Gea said his penalty save was vital: “I think it was a key moment.” He added: “They played really well, they had some chances near the end.”
United were on top in the opening half and Marcus Rashford brought a low save from Joel Robles after Fellaini knocked a deep cross down to the teenager. Then Fellaini swept home Martial’s pull-back for a deserved lead after 34 minutes.
Everton were jeered off by a large number of their fans at half-time and they were lucky not to fall further behind as Jesse Lingard fluffed his lines when played through at the end of a patient United build-up. But they responded superbly after the interval.
A rare burst forward saw Aaron Lennon feed Ross Barkley, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah adjudged to bring down the England midfielder as referee Taylor had no hesitation in giving a penalty. Lukaku stepped up but saw his spot-kick well saved by De Gea.
Martinez brought on Gerard Deulofeu and he had a big hand in bringing Everton level with 15 minutes remaining as his cross from the left was turned past his own goalkeeper by Smalling.
Everton were now running the show but, with the game looking like going into extra-time, substitute Ander Herrera capitalised on a lapse from Phil Jagielka and fed Martial, who delighted the United supporters with a cool finish.