Bruno Fernandes’s added-time goal for Manchester United crowned a scintillating comeback after this tie exploded on 70 minutes via a close-to-surreal passage that featured three red cards for Fulham: their manager, Marco Silva, plus Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian.
At this juncture the visitors were leading 1-0 but this all changed as United emerged from what followed in the lead and heading for the last four of the FA Cup. Willian was sent off for handballing Jadon Sancho’s goalbound shot, a penalty given only after Chris Kavanagh was ordered to the pitchside screen by the VAR. As he wandered over Silva, boiling due to two penalty shouts Fulham were denied, protested to the referee and he raised the red card for the first time.
Now, after Kavanagh awarded the spot-kick and sent off Willian, Mitrovic moved to the referee, shoved his left arm, and the official lifted the red again. Silva finally headed down the tunnel, and Fernandes coolly hit the penalty to Bernd Leno’s left to equalise Mitrovic’s opener earlier in the second half.
Fulham, down to nine men and no manager, were shell-shocked and United sucker-punched them ruthlessly. Sancho, again, was key. His slide-rule ball to Luke Shaw was as good as the left-back’s cross and when Marcel Sabitzer slid home from near-in Old Trafford went ballistic and Erik ten Hag’s men, muted until this phase, had somehow booked a semi-final berth against Brighton at Wembley next month.
In all of this United may be deemed lucky but there is a grit and quality to this team that refuses to concede defeat and today they proved this again by refusing to panic, then engineering the chance to kill off Fulham. And they did so without the suspended Casemiro or the injured Alejandro Garnacho, Raphaël Varane, Christian Eriksen, and Anthony Martial: Fernandes’s late blaze past Leno was the proverbial cherry on the cake, and sets up an enticing showdown with the Seagulls in the semi-final.