Ten Hag: Man Utd need to play the ‘perfect game’ to win FA Cup

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United can take inspiration from this season’s earlier win over rivals Man City to stop them winning the treble when they face each other in the FA Cup final.

United set up an all Manchester FA Cup final by beating Brighton on penalties, as Victor Lindelof scored the winning spot-kick following Solly March’s miss.

City could still win the treble this season, having reached the Champions League semi-finals and are locked in a close title race with Arsenal in the Premier League.

The shoot-out followed a 0-0 draw between both teams after extra-time, and ten Hag hailed the character of his side to bounce back from a dismal display in Sevilla earlier in the week which saw his side exit the Europa League.

“I understand, of course, the feelings from the Man United fans about it,” ten Hag said when asked about the importance of beating their rivals in a cup final.

“We will do everything to give them that, to give them the second trophy; everything what I have, everything the team have, the staff have.

“We will give everything to get it done. We can do it because we’ve proven it. It’s not easy though, it’s a great team, but we also have a great team and great players. We can beat them.

“We will give everything, and when I say everything, that is everything.

“We will do it against every opponent, it doesn’t matter who it is. We want to give that against City, we want to give the fans that.” 

United have already beaten City once this season, a 2-1 home win in the Premier League, and ten Hag says his side can take confidence from that result heading into the final.

“We have proven that we could beat them but we have to play the perfect game,” he continued.

“For me, that was the perfect game we played this season.

“We have to go again, we know that, but first of all, we have to focus on different occasions, on different games, because we have to be in the top four to get into the Champions League next season.” 

United’s response was reflected by the performance of David de Gea, who endured a torrid evening against Sevilla but made some fine saves to keep Brighton out.

“David played a great game, in and out of possession, he made some great saves, he’s done that so often this season, great saves, we have the most clean sheets in the Premier League, today a clean sheet as well, because we were so determined, we were fighting for it, we were organised,” Ten Hag added.

Brighton were scintillating at times in the first half and can count themselves unlucky not to have progressed to the final.

Enciso, fresh off his stunning winner against Chelsea last week, went close from the edge of the box after the dangerous Kaoru Mitoma had skipped inside from the left.

United were second best for the majority of the first half but sprung into life in the final few minutes before the break, Fernandes firing a low strike wide from a tight angle before Christian Eriksen was denied by the feet of Sanchez having been picked out by Marcus Rashford.

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The control Brighton had in the first half gave way to a more end to end, exciting game in the second, with Enciso first forcing de Gea to tip over a rocket of a shot which then saw former United man Danny Welbeck leap highest to head over at the back post from the resulting corner.

But Sanchez made a fine stop to keep the scores level before, in extra time, leaping across his goal to tip a deflected shot from Rashford wide.

Brighton threatened too before penalties came, Mitoma playing a neat one-two with sub Deniz Undav in the box before his touch let him down in front of goal and he was penalised for a lunge for the ball which caught de Gea.

But with neither side able to find the net, the game was decided from the spot. Both sides converted their first six penalties before March fired over, and Lindelof was the hero on the day, keeping his cool to fire into the corner and set up a mouth-watering contest with rivals City.

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