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Manchester United Triumphs Over Manchester City 2-1 to Clinch FA Cup

Manchester United’s manager, Erik ten Hag, celebrates by lifting the trophy after their 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the English FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium in London on May 25, 2024. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)

Manchester United’s manager, Erik ten Hag, celebrates by lifting the trophy after their 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the English FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium in London on May 25, 2024. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)


 

Erik ten Hag Rescues His Job as Manchester United Stun Manchester City 2-1 to Win FA Cup.
Following a challenging season that even Ten Hag himself described as “terrible,” the Dutchman’s tactical brilliance helped United upset their city rivals and disrupt City’s bid for a historic Premier League and FA Cup double.

Despite reports that Ten Hag would be dismissed regardless of the outcome at Wembley, the dramatic win might cause United’s hierarchy to reconsider. City, the clear favorites, were left stunned as United executed a perfect game plan. First-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo put United in the driver’s seat, and although Jeremy Doku managed a late goal for City, it wasn’t enough to overturn the deficit. This victory marks United’s first FA Cup triumph in eight years and could be pivotal in securing Ten Hag’s future at Old Trafford.

The match was initially perceived as Ten Hag’s last stand, but it turned into a showcase of his managerial prowess. His tactical masterclass neutralized Pep Guardiola’s side, demonstrating his capability to outthink one of football’s most revered managers. Key figures, including United shareholder Jim Ratcliffe and co-owners Joel and Avie Glazer, watched from the stands as Ten Hag’s strategy unfolded to perfection. This victory, along with Ten Hag’s earlier success in winning the League Cup, underscores his ability to lead the team effectively when managing a full-strength squad.

Throughout the season, United faced numerous challenges, finishing eighth in the Premier League—their lowest position since 1990—and crashing out of the Champions League in the group stage. Despite these setbacks, Ten Hag has pointed to a lengthy injury list as a significant factor in the team’s struggles. His achievements in cup competitions, however, provide a strong argument for his continued leadership.

**Match Highlights and Tactical Brilliance**

On Saturday, Manchester United’s disciplined performance began with a firm defensive strategy. Content to sit deep with all 11 men behind the ball, United stifled City’s attacking threats. City were furious when their strong penalty appeal was rejected inside the first minute after Lisandro Martinez’s shove sent Erling Haaland sprawling. However, United’s defense held firm, setting the stage for their counterattacking opportunities.

In the 30th minute, Diogo Dalot’s punt forward led to a mix-up in City’s defense. Josko Gvardiol hesitated, looking for an offside flag, and his misjudgment allowed Garnacho to tap the ball into an empty net after City keeper Stefan Ortega rashly rushed off his line. Garnacho, at just 19 years old, became the first teenager to score in the FA Cup final since Cristiano Ronaldo for United against Millwall 20 years ago.

Nine minutes later, another defensive lapse from City led to United’s second goal. Garnacho advanced unchecked down the right wing and found Bruno Fernandes, whose superb first-time pass reached the unmarked Kobbie Mainoo. The 19-year-old midfielder finished clinically from close range, doubling United’s lead and putting them on course for a historic victory.

**City’s Response and United’s Resilience**

After halftime, City pushed harder to get back into the game. Despite their efforts, United’s defense, marshaled by Ten Hag’s tactical adjustments, remained resilient. City’s persistent attacks finally yielded a goal in the 87th minute when Jeremy Doku’s shot slipped through Andre Onana’s grasp, setting up a tense finale. However, United held on, and City’s late surge wasn’t enough to deny their rivals a famous victory.

As the final seconds ticked away, Ten Hag stood nervously on the sidelines, awaiting the final whistle that would confirm his team’s triumph. This dramatic win not only ended a turbulent season on a high note but also provided a strong argument for Ten Hag’s continued tenure. His victory over City revived memories of Sir Alex Ferguson’s pivotal 1990 FA Cup win, which marked the beginning of his remarkable run at United after facing calls for his sacking earlier that season.

**Looking Ahead**

With this FA Cup triumph, Ten Hag has revived hopes for a brighter future at Old Trafford. United’s qualification for the Europa League, avoiding a season without European football, further bolsters his case. The win came amidst an unusually tepid performance from City, who had recently celebrated their fourth consecutive Premier League title. Despite a strong penalty appeal being turned down and defensive errors leading to United’s goals, City’s late efforts couldn’t prevent their first domestic defeat in 171 days.

Ultimately, Ten Hag’s strategic mastery and United’s disciplined performance culminated in a memorable victory. This FA Cup win offers hope for the future and potentially secures an unexpected stay of execution for the much-maligned Dutchman. As United looks forward to the next season, this triumph could mark the turning point in Ten Hag’s tenure, providing a foundation for future success.

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