Nemanja Matic

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Man Utd joins Spurs in FA Cup semis

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Jose Mourinho has come under heavy scrutiny in recent days and weeks, as his Manchester United side crashed out of the Champions League this week and continue to trail runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City by 16 points, yet the Portuguese is perhaps just 180 minutes from finishing the 2017-18 with a major trophy anyway.

[ MORE: Spurs beat Swansea to reach FA Cup semis ]

Man United got the best of Brighton & Hove Albion, to the tune of 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday, to book their spot at Wembley Stadium in the semifinals of the FA Cup. Romelu Lukaku scored the winning goal not long before halftime, with United grinding out another laborious result with superstars Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez glued to the bench for the whole of 90 minutes.

United enjoyed a healthy 61 percent of possession in the game, but were out-shot by the 12th-place side in the PL by a sizable margin, 16-8 (4-2 on target).

[ MORE: Follow all the FA Cup scores ] 

Lukaku’s rampage through the FA Cup continued in the 37th minute, as the big Belgian striker bagged not only his 23rd goal of the season in all competitions, but his fifth of the tournament thus far and extended his record of having scored in each round to four games.

Nemanja Matic floated a cross from the let side of the box to the back post, where Lukaku had created a yard or two of space for himself. Tim Krul didn’t come out to catch it, and Lukaku headed it just under the crossbar to give the Old Trafford faithful reason to smile again.

[ PREVIEW: Who will join Spurs, United at Wembley?

It was Matic who got on the end of another back-post ball, this one from an Ashley Young free kick, in the 84th minute to put United two goals ahead and secure the club’s second FA Cup semifinals appearance in seven seasons (United enjoyed a run of five final-four appearances out of eight in the years prior).

Tottenham Hotspur, who trail United by four points in the race for second in the PL, were the first side to advance to this season’s semifinals by winning 3-0 away to Swansea City on Saturday.

Mourinho slams United’s fans over McTominay treatment

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MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho hailed Manchester United’s “perfect result” against Liverpool as his team won 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to cement their spot in second place in the Premier League table and give themselves a five-point lead over their fierce rivals.

Although he said he “wouldn’t go as far” to call the performance perfect as United’s 2-0 half time lead, via two Marcus Rashford strikes, was halved by an own goal by Eric Bailly and came under threat from late Liverpool pressure, Mourinho was fairly happy with a characteristically dogged display from his side.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

However, he wasn’t happy with United’s supporters.

In the second half they loudly criticized academy graduate Scott McTominay who kept possession rather than going forward to give his team a breather with a veteran move. Mourinho applauded on the sidelines at the time, then hit out at United’s supporters over the way they treated the young midfielder.

Asked by reporters if he was unhappy with fans booing his decision to take off Rashford who was on a hat trick, Mourinho instead rounded on them for their loud criticism of McTominay.

“I am not upset at all with that reaction. I am upset with a reaction they had with Scott McTominay. A kid, 20 years old, was making all the right decisions and they want him to make the wrong decisions,” Mournho said. “When a kid decides to break the intensity of the game, not to lose, keep possession and play a back pass to give a solution and keep the ball in the opponents in the other half. It was a wonderful solution that many top players with experience, they don’t do it. The kid did it and the fans reacted against the kid. That, for me, was the bad one. To react against me and my decisions, that’s not a problem.”

It was another fine display from McTominay in the engine room alongside Nemanja Matic as United barely missed Paul Pogba who missed out through injury after getting injured late in training on Friday.

Mourinho was generally positive about the Old Trafford atmosphere, but he still isn’t happy with some of United’s fans and made his feelings very clear.

Report: Man United keen on signing Doucoure

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Manchester United is said to be keen on bringing Watford’s French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure to Old Trafford in the summer.

[ MORE: Best position for Sanchez at United?

Doucoure, 25, is Watford’s top goalscorer with seven goals this season with the box-to-box midfielder impressing mightily throughout the campaign and adored by the Hornets faithful.

United are said to be one of a string of PL clubs keeping a close eye on Doucoure, with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham also said to be interested.

Does Jose Mourinho need another combative central midfielder?

He already has Nemanja Matic, who of course is more defensive minded after only scoring his first goal in a United shirt this Monday against Crystal Palace. As for Mourinho’s other central midfield options, Ander Herrera seems to be on the periphery, while Michael Carrick is set to retire and move onto the coaching staff, Marouane Fellaini looks likely to leave when his contract is up in the summer and youngster Scott McTominay is also another option.

But what about Paul Pogba? This link to Doucoure could in fact suggest that United are ready to offload the Frenchman this summer with Mourinho recently leaving Pogba out of his starting lineup amid criticism of his displays and attitude.

Doucoure is very much a Mourinho player with the towering Frenchman six-foot tall. He provides driving runs from central midfield as well as having a fine positional sense. The former Rennes and Granada midfielder is said to be available for around $55 million, which is five times what Watford paid for him to Rennes before loaning him out to Granada.

“Devastated” and “empty” Palace must pick up the pieces

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Crystal Palace looked set to pull off another Selhurst shock after Andros Townsend and Patrick Van Aanholt scored to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead over Manchester United on Monday.

[ MORE: Recap | Matic reacts | Mourinho, too ]

It wasn’t to be, though, as a Nemanja Matic wonderstrike capped off a furious United fight back that pushed the Red Devils back into second place and kept the Eagles in the Premier League’s relegation zone.

“It’s the Premier League and unfortunately we were on the wrong end of it tonight,” Townsend said. “We have proved we can pull off shocks against the top sides. We will put on a show on Saturday [against Chelsea] and hopefully pull off another shock.”

Palace was lively and busy, with twin tall forwards Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth a handful for the United defense and opening up lanes for Townsend and others. Here’s Sorloth, who arrived from Midtjylland in January.

“It’s an empty feeling, we should have had the three points today after leading 2-0 against United then we should have controlled the game more and don’t give them so much space on the ball and then they go and score at the end,” said Sorloth.

As for Roy Hodgson, he’s been through the wars and will be ready for the weekend, but can’t help but feel sympathy for his men after a decent effort.

“Where we are in the table doesn’t enter my mind during the match,” he said. “It would have been nice to have two more points but we still would have been very much in a relegation battle. It could well go down to the wire.”

“I was expecting to come away with one point but once again it is nothing and I feel devastated for the players.”

Palace is off to Chelsea on Saturday before a bona fide six-pointer at Huddersfield Town.

Matic on his wonder winner, what Mourinho said at halftime

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Nemanja Matic doesn’t score often, but when he does they seem to reverberate through the box score.

[ RECAP: Palace 2-3 Man Utd ]

Manchester United’s destroyer belted the crown jewel of the Red Devils 3-2 comeback win on Monday, waiting until stoppage time to give United its first lead.

He was asked where it ranks on his goals list.

“I think it was in the first 10, because I’ve scored only 10 in my life.”

The Serbian Steven Wright, everyone.

United was down 1-0 at the break, and went down 2-0 soon after the break. What did Mourinho tell them at the break?

“He said that we have to do more. He said he’s happy with how we fight, but it was not enough. We had to do more to win this game. We did in the second half after the second goal for Crystal Palace. We did exactly what he wanted from us.”

A pair of defensive errors put United behind the 8-ball, but there was no visible trepidation from the Red Devils away from home.

They’ll need to clean up their act before Sunday’s match at Liverpool, but the vibes will be just fine after a nice comeback win.