Manchester United 3-1 Fulham: Red card chaos as Red Devils book Wembley trip
Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Manchester United secured an FA Cup semi-final place with a 3-1 win over nine-man Fulham, who spectacularly fell apart at Old Trafford.
The Cottagers appeared well on course for a first last-four appearance since 2002 when Aleksandar Mitrovic put them in front five minutes after the break.
But their hopes collapsed as the tie descended into chaos when Chris Kavanagh's decision to award the hosts a penalty 18 minutes from time resulted in Willian and Mitrovic being sent off.
United capitalised on their numerical advantage as they completed a turnaround with Fernandes netting twice and Marcel Sabitzer also on target.
Fulham had not beaten United in 15 attempts, but they made a positive start at Old Trafford.
David de Gea tipped over Issa Diop's looping header, while those in the Stretford End breathed a huge sigh of relief when Tim Ream's dangerous cross narrowly evaded his team-mates as it fizzed through the six-yard box.
At the other end, Wout Weghorst and Sabitzer shot straight at Bernd Leno, while a vital Ream block denied Scott McTominay in first-half stoppage time.
Fulham made another bright start to the second half. Antonee Robinson and Willian called De Gea into action before the visitors snatched the lead, Diop helping on Andreas Pereira's corner for Mitrovic to tuck home.
But their hard work was undone as the tie descended into chaos.
After consulting VAR, and red-carding Fulham boss Marco Silva for his protests, Kavanagh sent off Willian for handling Jadon Sancho's shot on the line, while Mitrovic followed for getting too physical with the official.
United took advantage with Fernandes rolling home the resulting penalty and, just two minutes later, Sabitzer cleverly turned in Luke Shaw's cross.
Fernandes then secured the Red Devils' record 31st FA Cup semi-final appearance when he fired past Leno in stoppage time.
What does it mean? Another United record as Fulham implode
United have gone ahead of Arsenal by reaching a 31st semi-final, but Fulham will see this as an opportunity wasted.
The visitors were ahead and holding their own until the penalty incident. Then, a wild lack of discipline – from players and staff – saw them go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down with nine men in the space of just 265 seconds.
Bruno at the double
United's cause was helped by Fulham's ill-discipline, but Fernandes began the turnaround with a calm penalty amid the chaos that had descended.
The Portugal international, who also sealed the victory with a thumping finish, produced another all-action display in the middle of the park.
Indeed, he led the way with producing the most crosses (seven) and key passes for United (three – level with Sancho), while no player gained possession on more occasions (11).
The good and the bad of Mitrovic
Spearheading the Fulham attack, Mitrovic ended his nine-game goal drought while netting his first FA Cup goal with a brilliant poacher's finish early in the second half.
However, he undid all his hard work when his temper got the better of him. Angered by Kavanagh's decision to dismiss Willian, his aggressive nudge left the referee with no choice but to also show him the red card.
Key Opta facts
– Fulham were shown two red cards in a single game for the first time since November 2009 in the Europa League versus Roma.
– Fulham are winless in their last 16 meetings with United in all competitions (D3 L13), while they have only won one of their last 26 away games against the Red Devils (3-1 in October 2003).
– Sabitzer became the first Austrian player to score a competitive goal for United, in what was his ninth appearance for the club.
– Fernandes has scored 23 of his 26 penalties for United (excluding shoot-outs), including 11 of 12 he has taken at Old Trafford. Fernandes has hit double figures for both goals and assists in each of his last three campaigns for the club (10 goals + 10 assists in 2022-23).
– Mitrovic netted his first ever goal in the FA Cup in what was his 12th appearance in the competition.
Both teams are on their travels when they return to Premier League action after the international break. United travel to Newcastle on April 2 while, the previous day, Fulham look to respond away at Bournemouth.