FA CUP 6R : WHU 1 UNITED 2

RASHFORD 06

Manchester United booked an Emirates FA Cup semi-final date with Everton at Wembley by impressively overcoming West Ham United in a thrilling sixth-round replay at Upton Park.

In the last-ever cup tie at the Hammers’ historic home, a wonderful goal by Marcus Rashford and a close-range strike by the recalled Marouane Fellaini put the Reds in control in the second half.

James Tomkins’ header led to a nervy final 10 minutes, with David De Gea producing more heroics, but the visitors held out to stay on course for a 12th triumph in football’s oldest knockout competition, and there was further good news late on when Wayne Rooney returned after two months out through injury.

West Ham started the brighter of the two teams and Enner Valencia found himself in space in the box but shot weakly at De Gea. But the Reds gradually settled into the game, with Fellaini firing a shot that flicked off Angelo Ogbonna’s boot and was then tipped over by Darren Randolph.

Half-chances came and went for both sides but the best opening arrived for Rashford 10 minutes before the interval. The 18-year-old escaped two markers superbly and played Jesse Lingard through on goal, but Randolph came out to block the winger’s attempt. Soon after, with the visitors now on top and the rain teeming down in East London, an unmarked Rashford couldn’t connect cleanly with Tim Fosu-Mensah’s cross and the sides went in level.

The Reds displayed some great attacking intent at the start of the second period and Lingard’s strike hit the goal stanchion, before De Gea clung on to Cheikhou Kouyate’s long-range effort.

But Louis van Gaal’s side were in command and the breakthrough came in the 54th minute. Rashford collected Anthony Martial’s pass, made room for himself and curled a brilliant sixth goal of the season past Randolph into the top corner.

The hosts fired a couple of speculative efforts at De Gea in a bid to get back into the game but it was the Reds who doubled the advantage midway through the second period. Lingard crossed to Martial, who controlled the ball eight yards out and fired a shot on goal that clipped off Tomkins and was then diverted in by Fellaini.

The home supporters fell silent but the Hammers kept pressing and, after De Gea made an astonishing point-blank save from Michail Antonio, the Reds conceded. Andy Carroll, who had netted a seven-minute hat-trick in his side’s last outing against Arsenal but had been subdued all night, knocked a far-post corner back across goal for Tomkins to head home.

The goal spurred West Ham into life and led to some fingernails being bitten among the 5,000 fans in the away end as the Hammers laid siege to De Gea’s goal. The Spanish goalkeeper prevented Chris Smalling from putting through his own net, Carroll headed a presentable chance over and De Gea made a stunning late double save from Kouyate and Carroll. Kouyate’s second attempt in that attack actually found the net but he was rightly flagged offside.

After four minutes of stoppage time, with Rooney now on the pitch, referee Roger East blew his whistle and United can look forward to a last-four clash with Everton on 23 April.

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