London, Jun 27 (efe-epa).- Manchester United claimed a spot in the FA Cup semifinals Saturday with a 2-1 extra-time victory against Norwich City, who played the final 32 minutes with 10 men.
United, sixth in the Premier League and still in contention for a Champions League berth, were the clear favorites against the last-place Canaries.
But despite conceding 64 percent possession and being outshot 37-9, Norwich showed heart and tenacity, keeping the Red Devils off the scoreboard until the 51st minute.
Amid a crush of bodies in front of the net, a Norwich defender’s attempt to clear a Luke Shaw cross left the ball within reach of United’s Odion Ighalo and the Nigerian knocked it in for the 1-0 lead.
Ighalo, acquired from a club in China during the January transfer window, has become something of a super-sub for coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, producing five goals in 11 matches.
Norwich were quick to react and nearly equalized 10 minutes later on Emiliano Buendia’s free kick.
With United unable to put the match to bed with a second goal, the Canaries battled on and their reward materialized in the 75th minute, when Todd Cantwell blasted the ball past Red Devils keeper Sergio Romero from the edge of the box.
Two minutes from the end of regulation, Timm Klose wrestled Ighalo to the ground and the referee pulled out the red card. VAR had a look, but the call stood, leaving Norwich to face extra time with 10 men.
Even with the man advantage, United struggled to break through and the contest looked set to go to penalties. Two minutes were left in extra time when defender Harry Maguire, lying on the turf in front of the net, pushed in Paul Pogba’s cross to win it for the Red Devils.
“That’s cup football for you,” Solskjaer said afterward. “The game wasn’t the greatest spectacle. I felt that we kept the ball OK but didn’t create enough chances, but we’re in the semifinal. It was a good workout, got some minutes into many players and rested a few. And there were some nice goals, it was good for Harry to get the winner. We’re through, that’s what matters in the cup.”
The other three FA Cup semifinalists will be decided Sunday.
Sheffield United will host Arsenal, Leicester City are home to Chelsea and holders Manchester City will be away to Newcastle United. EFE msg/dr