Norwich City could be doomed to the Championship next season. However, they will not leave the elite without fighting.
An FA Cup tie that started shyly ended in drama. United, seemingly in control when they took the lead in the 51st minute, instead gave up control of the game when an equalizer Todd Cantwell took the match in overtime.
Even then, the odds were even more favorable for United when, in the last minutes of normal time, Timm Klose had put United’s top scorer Odion Ighalo on the ground, rather than giving him a chance to win the game.
Manchester United are in the FA Cup semifinals after beating Norwich 2-1 after being deeply frustrated in overtime
Harry Maguire’s late strike made the difference after setting shots on goal after hosts fell to 10 men
Norwich fought bravely and sometimes appeared on the better side, but could not hold on after killing a man late at night
Against ten men, the imbalance was slightly ridiculous. In the end, United played with Mason Greenwood’s top four, Anthony Martial, Ighalo and Marcus Rashford.
With pushing backs, Nemanja Matic nominally in the center and Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in the midfield, it was as close to full-blown attack as possible. Sir Alex Ferguson would have approved.
And he agreed that, with only two minutes remaining when United had his award, it was reportedly his only real defender on the field who was the most prominent man. Pogba played in a delicious ball that Ighalo chased well and cut in a crowded area.
MATCH FACTS AND NOTES
Norwich (4-1-4-1): Krul 8; Aarons 6, Godfrey 5, Klose 6 [sent off], Lewis 6.5; Tettey 7; Buendia 7 (Duda 90 6) Rupp 6 (Hernandez 62 7.5), McLean 6, Cantwell 8 (Trybull 89 6); Pukki 5 (Drmic 71 5.5)
Submarines: McGovern, Varncic, Leitner, Stiepermann, Idah
Goals: Cantwell (75)
Director: Daniel Farke
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): Romero 6; Dalot 6 (Williams 63 6) Bailly 6 (Martial 97 7), Maguire 8, Shaw 7; Fred 6 (Pogba 77 7) McTominay 6 (Matic 77 6.5); Mata 6 (Greenwood 63 6.5), Fernandes 7.5, Lingard 6 (Rashford 63 6.5); Ighalo 7.5
Submarines: De Gea, Pereira, Fosu-Mensah
Goals: Ighalo (51), Maguire (118)
Director: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Arbitrator: Jonathan Moss
Hitting Todd Cantwell just 15 minutes from the end gave Norwich a deserved level, hitting him from the edge
Cantwell was the Canary Islands’ main danger man while Norwich sometimes seemed on the best side, which worried United.
Martial touched the ball but it was the unfortunate Ben Godfrey, guilty of a glaring foul earlier, who made the crucial deflection which allowed the ball to swing in the goal. In the middle of the fray, Harry Maguire swung a leg, connected and finally saw Tim Krul beaten.
Role of captain, he was immersed under his teammates in the middle of the mysterious silence now familiar to football under control. United are heading for the FA Cup semifinals, two cups still in sight. Norwich has only one relegation to rely on.
Despite the inevitability of relegation, Carrow Road would have been buzzing with an evening like this, his first FA Cup quarter-final in 28 years. As such, it was difficult to get to the heart of the matter with only a few scouts, analysts and media personnel.
Everyone is used to seeing no fan to date. No one is used to the feeling: flat. The FA Cup is more important to the fans than to the clubs themselves, so without their enthusiasm it has been left without resources.
Odion Ighalo has continued his goal record in every game he started for United with a close shot after 51 minutes
Hosts fell to 10 men late under normal circumstances as Timm Klose was sent off for a shot at striker Odion Ighalo
Because while there was a lot of serious effort from both teams in the first 45 minutes, there was little quality and precisely no shots on goal.
Indeed, it was only when Juan Mata was robbed in the midfield and Kenny McLean jumped forward that there was anticipation and a shot of all kinds. Unfortunately, McLean quickly disillusioned us with any emerging excitement by throwing his shot high in the stands.
There was a better chance for Norwich in the 44th minute when Todd Cantwell burst into space in the bottom right and framed the ball for Lukas Rupp. As he aligned his shot, Harry Maguire threw his body between goal and the ball and blocked a likely goal.
Even then, the ball fell Emi Buendia and Luke Shaw had to make a second block.
However, these two occasions gave a somewhat misleading perspective on United’s half of possession. United’s problem was that, apart from forward passes from Bruno Fernandes, much of their dominance of the ball was misused.
United were slow in the first half but started breaking after the expulsion, but the game seemed ready for penalties
Too many balls have been laid, too many more passes have been attempted when a space ball would have been better. They finished the half without a shot on target. Odion Ighalo replaced the hero of the hat trick Anthony Martial, but the fault lay with the creators.
Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, returning from illness, could not exceed their respective backs, Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis. Scott McTominay and Fred have laid a solid foundation but not much more.
Against a team that has scored 25 goals in 31 Premier League games, that seemed a little cautious. The sight of Martial, Marcus Rashfor, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba on the bench promised something better and more convincing for later. But United’s performance in the first half was more about industry than inspiration.
United brought back the big guns towards the end of the match but continued to be frustrated despite the influence of Paul Pogba
Possession should however eventually produce opportunities according to the law of averages. And United came in the 51st minute. Maguire, advanced far into the field, drilled a ball for Luke Shaw, who rolled and passed Buenida with far too much ease.
Shaw brought the ball back to an overcrowded area where a Mata prod forced him to follow the path of a hiding Igahlo, who would have been offside if Max Aarons had not inexplicably lingered at the bottom of the flank law.
Ighalo, who kissed playing for United as a competition winner, swiveled and eased to overtake Tim Krul.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team are now entering the semi-finals, seeking their first trophy as boss of the Old Trafford team
Five goals now, all in cup competitions, what seemed like a desperate winter signature seems a little more considered now.
With Greenwood and Rashford leaving the bench, United had a platform to continue and win convincingly. However, Norwich found inspiration in adversity. First, in the 69th minute, a swirling free kick from Buendia was deflected by Fernandes on the way to Ben Godfrey.
But the brain of the central half was scrambled, running past the ball and diverting it when, at three yards, it just needed the smallest touch to score.
Whatever. Two minutes later, Onel Hernandez was authorized to cut in from the right and Buendia released the ball to Cantwell.
Judging his luck at 25 meters, he opted for a deflection rather than for power, the ball passing in front of Maguire’s considerable obstacle and deceiving Sergio Romero as he leaned towards him and for an equalizer.