Our final N&R Road to Wembley boys Manchester United came from behind and survived Chris Smalling’s sending-off to beat Crystal Palace and win the FA Cup at Wembley through Jesse Lingard’s extra-time strike.
United looked on course to end the season empty-handed as well as missing out on Champions League football when substitute Jason Puncheon’s powerful far-post finish put Palace ahead with 12 minutes left.
Palace manager Alan Pardew danced like it was all over, but the last dance was to be on Louis Van Gaal.
Up until Puncheon’s goal the game had been unmemorable to say the least but United were the better team but were unable to make their crisper passing and possession pay. United had hit the woodwork through Marouane Fellaini and Antony Martial, but they responded within four minutes of Pardew’s dance routine with a brilliant run from Wayne Rooney that ended with JUAN MATA scoring from close range.
United then went to 10 men when the useless Smalling got a second yellow card for hauling back Yannick Bolasie in extra time. However Palace were unable to make the extra man count and JESSE LINGAARD took the trophy to Old Trafford when he lashed home a first-time strike from Damien Delaney’s half-clearance after 110 minutes.
Afterwards as Van Gaal took the trophy into the media room, word had already got out that he was to be replaced by Jose Mourinho this week. Classy.
A reminder of N&R Road to Wembley 2015/16:
Extra Preliminary Round
Long Melford 3-0 London Bari
Long Melford 0-1 Basildon United
1st Qualifying Round
Basildon United 0-1 Hullbridge Sports
2nd Qualifying Round
Grays Athletic 6-0 Hullbridge Sports
3rd Qualifying Round
Hanwell United 1-2 Grays Athletic
4th Qualifying Round
Grays Athletic 1-1 Welling United
4th Qualifying Round Replay
Welling United 4-0 Grays Athletic
1st Round Proper
Barwell 0-2 Welling United
Carlisle United 5-0 Welling United
Carlisle United 1-1 Yeovil Town (Played at Blackpool FC)
3rd Round Replay
Yeovil Town 1-1 AET Carlisle United
Carlisle United won 5-4 on pens
Carlisle United 0-3 Everton
Bournemouth 0-2 Everton
Everton 2-0 Chelsea
Everton 1-2 Manchester United (At Wembley)
Crystal Palace 1-2 AET Manchester United (At Wembley)