Manchester United capitalised on an extraordinary Fulham meltdown to come from behind to win 3-1 on Sunday afternoon and book an FA Cup semi final date with Brighton.
Aleksandar Mitrovic bagged just after half time but Willian was sent off for blocking a goal-bound Jadon Sancho shot with his arm. Manager Marco Silva was dismissed and Mitrovic also saw red for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh, leaving the Cottagers with just nine players.
Bruno Fernandes converted from the penalty spot before Marcel Sabitzer flicked in the winner with a smart finish, his first for United. Fernandes lashed in a third late on to seal the Red Devils’ spot in the last four.
David de Gea had to be alert to tip an early Issa Diop header over the bar before United’s first solid sight of goal saw Wout Weghorst strike tamely at Bernd Leno.
Marcel Sabitzer and Marcus Rashford had shots on target during the first half, while England international Rashford also overran a Jadon Sancho which just needed the slightest of touches to put the hosts ahead.
Fulham enjoyed possession towards the end of the first half and saw Kenny Tete whip a long-range effort well wide of the first half before a good block from Tim Ream denied Sancho moments before half time.
Man Utd, without the suspended Casemiro in midfield and the injured Raphael Varane in defence, struggled for fluency throughout the opening 45 minutes, with the Cottagers pressing well to create small moments of opportunity.
USMNT international Antonee Robinson forced De Gea into another stop from close range at the start of the second half before Willian again tested the Spaniard with a curler.
United failed to heed the warnings and went behind in the 50th minute. Andreas Pereira’s corner was flicked on by Diop to Mitrovic, who escaped Luke Shaw’s attention to knock in the opener.
A more direct response from the hosts saw Rashford find Bruno Fernandes on the edge of the box, but the Portugal international’s strike from the edge of the box drifted wide.
United have played an incredible amount of games already this season, with Sunday’s clash being their 46th in all competitions. The Red Devils were certainly short of vibrancy and vigour against Fulham, huffing and puffing in the final third while struggling to create solid end product.
A wonderful clawing save from De Gea kept Fulham at bay and prevented Mitrovic nodding in his second which would have likely sealed the contest in the 66th minute.
Instead, the game turned towards United in ridiculous fashion barely moments later. Antony sprinted away on the counter to feed Jadon Sancho, who sold the last defender and shot towards an open goal.
Willian batted the ball away with his hand and after VAR consultation referee Kavanagh sent off the Brazilian and awarded a penalty. Aleksandar Mitrovic then barged the official to also be dismissed alongside manager Marco Silva, who lost his cool on the touchline.
Fernandes equalised from the spot and the second came just two minutes later. Sancho fed Shaw who picked out Sabitzer, who flicked in at the near post to put United ahead.
The indescretions of Willian and Mitrovic saw Fulham tire dramatically towards the end of the game, allowing Fernandes to grab a second with a fierce finish.
It means a semi final clash with Brighton at Wembley for Man Utd in April as they continue their hunt for trophies both domestically and in Europe.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Couple of sharp saves before Mitrovic converted. Looked a little shaky with the ball at his feet.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6/10 – Known deficiencies were exposed here as Fulham pressed high up the pitch.
CB: Harry Maguire – 6/10 – Booked for dragging back Mitrovic.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 6/10 – Beaten by Diop for the first goal.
LB: Luke Shaw – 6/10 – Was marking Mitrovic for the opening goal but lost the Serbian. Good ball across goal picked out Sabitzer for the winner.
CM: Scott McTominay – 4/10 – Couldn’t match Palhinha’s industry before being hooked on the hour.
CM: Marcel Sabitzer – 7/10 – Stung Leno’s fingertips with a strike from distance. Great ingenuity to score his first United goal for the win.
RW: Jadon Sancho – 7/10 – Smart runs got in behind Fulham’s defence. Helped get Willian sent off and rolled in Shaw before Sabitzer struck.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Rolled in the equaliser from the penalty spot and grabbed a second late on with a powerful finish.
LW: Marcus Rashford – 5/10 – Couldn’t get his quick dribbling feet going and didn’t have too many shooting chances.
ST: Wout Weghorst – 5/10 – Spent a lot of time appealing for fouls and not enough time kicking footballs properly.
Antony (58′ for McTominay) – 7/10 – Direct running made an instant impact, getting in behind and squaring for Sancho before the penalty was awarded.
Fred (83′ for Rashford) – N/A
Erik ten Hag – 5/10 – United looked tired and without creativity for much of the contest. The result means it doesn’t matter too much, but Ten Hag’s side did suffer a fair amount on Sunday.
GK: Bernd Leno – 6/10 – Made some important stops and looked firm before United turned the game around.
RB: Kenny Tete – 6/10 – Didn’t shy away from attacks and showed some good creativity at points.
CB: Issa Diop – 7/10 – Went close with an early header and got the flick to Mitrovic to help Fulham take the lead.
CB: Tim Ream – 6/10 – Showed some creative passing from the back.
LB: Antonee Robinson – 6/10 – Like Tete, not afraid to show some attacking intent out wide. Booked for bringing down Antony.
CM: Harrison Reed – 7/10 – Snapped into challenges alongside Palhinha.
CM: Joao Palhinha – 8/10 – Patrolled midfield well as Fulham frustrated United. Would have led them to a famous victory on another day.
RW: Bobby Decordova-Reid – 5/10 – Was dispossessed three times, a joint game high alongside Mitrovic.
AM: Andreas Pereira – 6/10 – Booked for bringing down Sancho on the counter. Good delivery from out wide led to Fulham’s opener.
LW: Willian – 3/10 – Solid work rate down the left. Linked attacks nicely and tested De Gea with an effort from distance. Ruined it all by batting away Sancho’s strike and getting sent off.
ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic – 3/10 – Evaded the attention of United’s defenders to put Fulham ahead. Lost his head by barging the referee, ruining an otherwise threatening performance.
Tom Cairney (89′ for Pereira) – N/A
Dan James (89′ for Reed) – N/A
Manor Solomon (89′ for Decordova-Reid) – N/A
Cedric Soares (89′ for Tete) – N/A
Marco Silva – N/A – When everyone around him were losing their heads, Silva also lost his. The game plan had been executed to perfection but his side’s meltdown was self-inflicted and totally avoidable.