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Man Utd claim shock victory over Man City in FA Cup final

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes lifts the FA Cup following victory over City (John Walton/PA)
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes lifts the FA Cup following victory over City (John Walton/PA)

Manchester United ended a poor season on a huge high as Erik ten Hag ignored intense speculation about his future to mastermind a shock FA Cup final win against rivals Manchester City.

The build-up to the second successive all-Manchester showpiece was dominated by the Dutchman’s future after a report on Friday claimed he would be sacked regardless of the outcome at Wembley.

But United impressively parked talk that Saturday could be Ten Hag’s last match as teenage stars Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo struck, with the side digging deep to triumph 2-1 after substitute Jeremy Doku’s late effort.

It is the Red Devils boss’ second piece of silverware in as many seasons, but time will tell whether the trophy and Europa League qualification satisfies ambitious Ineos after limping home eighth in the league.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Avram Glazer watched on at Wembley, where United’s co-owners could not fail to have been impressed by Ten Hag’s game plan and his side’s output.

Most predicted City would become the first English side to win back-to-back domestic doubles fresh from sealing an unprecedented fourth straight top-flight title, but there appeared to be a hangover.

United, by contrast, were well-drilled and determined from the outset, with Garnacho capitalising on a defensive error to put Ten Hag’s side into a shock lead on the half-hour mark.

Manchester City v Manchester United – Emirates FA Cup – Final – Wembley Stadium
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag’s future has been under the spotlight (John Walton/PA)

Mainoo coolly extended their advantage at the end of a fine team move before half-time, which City responded to strongly as Erling Haaland hit the bar during a period of pressure.

There was late tension as the otherwise impressive Andre Onana let in a late Doku strike but the Red Devils were not to be denied as they ended a poor, injury-hit campaign with a win for Ten Hag, who will be hoping to avoid being sacked after winning the FA Cup like Louis van Gaal was in 2016.

A year on from Ilkay Gundogan’s stunning strike inside seconds of kick-off to set City on their way to victory, a rocking Wembley witnessed another electric start.

This time Marcus Rashford saw a dangerous run behind halted, sparking a City break that ended with Haaland going down in the box under pressure from Lisandro Martinez.

Manchester City v Manchester United – Emirates FA Cup – Final – Wembley Stadium
Alejandro Garnacho pounced on a misplaced header from Josko Gvardiol to put United ahead (Nick Potts/PA)

No penalty was awarded and play quickly settled as United held their defensive shape as the holders passively bossed possession. Ten Hag’s men were also primed to press with intensity when required.

Pep Guardiola’s men were a shadow of the side that wrapped up the title last weekend and gifted their rivals a 30th-minute opener.

Diogo Dalot’s hopeful ball forwards caused problems and Josko Gvardiol headed over Stefan Ortega rather than back to his goalkeeper under pressure from Garnacho.

The 19-year-old gleefully turned the loose ball into an empty net then ran off in celebration in front of the dazed City faithful.

United fans erupted again in the 37th minute, but Rashford’s tap-in was ruled out for an offside in the build-up.

It was a warning shot that City failed to heed as the underdogs impressively found the net again two minutes later.

Garnacho collected Rashford’s cross-field ball to the right and played onto Bruno Fernandes, whose excellent first-time pass put in Mainoo to coolly beat Ortega.

It was a first half few saw coming and Doku was part of a double half-time alteration from City, with the fleet-footed substitute passing for Haaland to hit the bar in the 55th minute.

Manchester City v Manchester United – Emirates FA Cup – Final – Wembley Stadium
Jeremy Doku pulled a goal back for City late on (Nick Potts/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne was replaced by Julian Alvarez soon after and Onana produced a fantastic save to deny City skipper Kyle Walker from distance as pressure mounted.

Alvarez blazed over and then soon slotted wide having been slipped through, but United emerged from that period with half-chances at the other end.

Tensions became frayed as Walker lost his cool with substituted Martinez and City players claimed a penalty by Mainoo on Haaland.

Onana stopped a low Walker drive as the clock wound down, but he will be disappointed to have let in Doku’s low 20-yard strike at his near post in the 87th minute.

The nerves were palpable but United held on for a win to cherish.