Fulham FC did absolutely everything they could to hand today’s FA Cup quarterfinal match to Manchester United, so all the hosts could do was graciously oblige.
Up 1-0 with just under 18 minutes left in regulation, Willian committed a hand-ball that earned him a red card. A VAR check led to Aleksandar Mitrovic shoving the official, which earn the game’s only goal scorer at that point his very own red card.
After that bone-headed decision from a member of the visiting team, Bruno Fernandes converted from the penalty spot to equalize just three minutes later. Two minutes later, left back Luke Shaw set up Marcel Sabitzer, and just like that it was 2-1 United.
Fernandes added another in stoppage time to complete the scoring. Some times, when you’re playing a ton of extra matches, for the cause of chasing trophies, it is better to be lucky than good.
“We are in a position to win trophies but we have to fight for it,” United manager Erik ten Hag said.
“We need the whole squad. We’ve already played from Christmas on, every three or four days a game, and that will continue to the end of the season and that is what we love. It will give us energy.”
Ten Hag also maintains that this win was earned and deserved by his team, it was not handed to them.
“Up until the red card we were clearly the best team on the pitch,” he added.
United are now through to the semifinals of the FA Cup, where they will take on Brighton. Should they reach the final of that competition, as well as the Europa League final, they will end up playing 65 matches in the 2022-23 season.
So when Ten Hag says this team loves all the added work load, and how the fixture pile up energizes them, well that is a great thing- for them and their fans. It’s good that they like the extra games, because it looks like the additional games are going to keep coming, up until the end of the season.
Ten Hag and United have one trophy already in the bag this season, and with two more in striking distance, they can feel the opportunity for more right in front of them. .
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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