Monday, April 22, 2024

Man United end Liverpool’s quadruple trophy bid


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Manchester, March 18: There’s still some fight left in Manchester United.
With the season hanging in the balance, Erik ten Hag’s team produced one of the most important wins of his tenure to beat Liverpool 4-3 after extra time in a thrilling FA Cup quarterfinal match on Sunday.
With nearly the last kick of the match, substitute Amad sent Old Trafford into raptures, ended Liverpool’s bid for a quadruple of trophies and fired United into the semifinals.
“Listen to the noise, you can tell what a big game it is, a huge occasion,” said Marcus Rashford, who missed a golden chance to win it at the end of regulation, but levelled the game at 3-3 in extra time. “I had to score that chance at the end … but we got the job done and we have to get something out of this season.”
Time will tell just how significant a result this will be for Ten Hag, who has faced mounting speculation about his position in the face of a troubled campaign and restructuring at the club.
The FA Cup represents his last chance of silverware this season, while Champions League qualification is in doubt with United sixth in the Premier League.
Defeat against the club’s fiercest rival Liverpool would likely have seen the pressure on the Dutchman grow.
And it was notable that television cameras focused on new director Dave Brailsford as the clock ticked down with Liverpool leading 2-1 as the game approached 90 minutes.
Brailsford is part of the team overseeing United’s football operations following British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s recent investment in the club.
He looked stone-faced with United seemingly headed out of the competition and Liverpool’s away fans making the loudest noise.
Emotions changed drastically inside Old Trafford, however, when Antony levelled the game in the 87th. That set up a white-knuckle ride through to the first minute of stoppage time in extra time, with big chances missed and momentum swinging one way and then another until Amad’s winner.
Ten Hag hopes it can be a turning point for his team.
“Every team needs its moment into a season and we never had that moment,” the United manager said.
“This could be that moment where the team believe and (has) energy that we can do amazing things. I think when you can beat Liverpool the way we did, then you can beat any opponent. It’s up to us to prove that point.”
Twelve-time FA Cup winner United was later drawn against second-tier Coventry in the semifinals and defending champion Manchester City will play Chelsea, which beat Leicester 4-2 earlier Sunday. Both matches will take place at Wembley.
The game had looked like going to a penalty shootout until Amad fired low into the bottom corner to beat Caoimhin Kelleher following a late Liverpool corner.
The substitute was so caught up in the moment that he was shown a second yellow card and sent off for taking off his jersey during wild celebrations.
“It’s the best goal of my life, it’s a really important moment. You need to believe in every single moment, this is football,” he said.
“I am disappointed to be sent off, but what is important is to win. To beat Liverpool is a big, big moment for me.”
United’s pursuit of a top-four finish was also helped after fourth-place Aston Villa drew 1-1 at West Ham in the Premier League earlier in the day. Tottenham, in fifth, lost 3-0 at Fulham on Saturday.
Ten Hag’s team is still nine points adrift of Villa, but has a game in hand, and perhaps momentum after such a morale-boosting win.
“We are still fighting. For a long time in the season, we are far behind that level, but we are putting pressure on Spurs and Villa,” he said.
“Our goal is the Champions League and silverware.”
Ten Hag described the opening 35 minutes of Sunday’s match as the best his team had played all season.
Scott McTominay put United ahead in the 10th minute before goals from Alexis Mac Allister in the 44th and Mohamed Salah in the second minute of first-half stoppage time gave Liverpool the lead at the break.
After Antony levelled, Harvey Elliott hit the post for Liverpool and Rashford fired wide with only the keeper to beat with the final kick in regulation.
In extra time Elliott restored Liverpool’s lead in the 105th and Rashford levelled again seven minutes later.
Amad’s winner killed off Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of winning four trophies before he steps down at the end of the season.
Liverpool has already won the League Cup, is second in the league and through to the quarterfinals of the Europa League.
“I think my boys showed incredible character again. Super effort again. Everybody showed it,” Klopp said.
“You cannot compare our season to United’s with the amount of games. It’s fine, we deal with it.” (AP)


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