MANCHESTER UNITED 1 ARSENAL 2
Danny Welbeck came back to haunt Louis van Gaal last night as the Manchester United manager was subjected to a night of despair and defeat at Old Trafford.
Welbeck sent Arsenal through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup with a 61st-minute winner after Wayne Rooney had equalised Nacho Monreal’s opener.
To pile yet more misery on the United boss, he watched Angel di Maria get sent off towards the end of the defeat for pulling referee Michael Oliver’s shirt as he reacted angrily to being booked for diving.
Di Maria can have little reason to complain. The £59.7 million signing snatched at Oliver’s shirt as he turned away after issuing him with a booking.
After a mildly encouraging performance in the first half, United wilted and looked blunt after the restart. Welbeck, the Longsight lad who left his boyhood club for north London last summer, provided the killer touch after a clanger from Antonio Valencia.
Van Gaal claimed he controversially ditched Welbeck last summer because the striker did not score enough goals.
Arsene Wenger’s side are now very much favourites to regain the FA Cup afte their first win at Old Trafford in nine years.
Both teams started cautiously. Marouane Fellaini managed to treat United fans to an equal measure of joy and despair in the 13th minute when he turned brilliantly in the box and then clattered into Per Mertesacker and gave away a free-kick. Welbeck looked cautious on the attack, but it was not the same down the other flank where Alexis Sanchez drilled a low shot which tested David de Gea.
Di Maria cut a frustrated figure on the right. He cut in from the flank and fired in curling crosses, but United’s front two of Rooney and Fellaini failed to take advantage. The one time Fellaini did take the ball down well, he laid the ball off to Ashley Young inside the box, but he fired over.
Arsenal raced up the other end on the counter. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain helped the Gunners take the lead. He picked the ball up off Mesut Ozil, tip-toed his way past three United players and squared the ball to Monreal, who stroked the ball past De Gea.
The 9,000 Arsenal fans inside Old Trafford fell silent four minutes later when Rooney equalised.
Di Maria sent over another dangerous dipping cross. This time Rooney had peeled away from his marker Laurent Koscielny and he speared a diving header past Wojciech Szczesny from close range.
Arsenal appealed for a penalty after Marcos Rojo pulled Welbeck back, but referee Oliver waved play on.
Van Gaal brought Phil Jones and Michael Carrick on for Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera at the break and Arsenal were also forced into a change when Ramsey replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain.
With just under half an hour to go Valencia handed Arsenal a gift-wrapped ticket to Wembley. The right-back sold De Gea short with a back pass after Jones had chested a long ball down to him and Welbeck sprinted through and tapped into an empty net after beating De Gea to the ball.
The former United striker thought about not celebrating for a second, but then pumped his fists with joy.
Di Maria rounded off a miserable for the hosts when he was dismissed for tugging Oliver’s shirt after he had cautioned him for diving.
Adnan Januzaj appealed for a penalty soon after, but Oliver also booked him for simulation and Arsenal were able to coast to victory.
Arsenal will face either Bradford City or Reading in the semi-finals. The other tie will see Aston Villa take on the winner of Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool’s replay.
Story Courtesy of: Paul Hirst ( www.westerndailypress.co.uk)
Image Source: GETTY