Romelu Lukaku

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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.

Three things from Manchester United’s Champions League exit

AP Photo/Dave Thompson

Manchester United disappointed on many levels in bailing out of the UEFA Champions League at the Round of 16.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-2 (1-2 agg.) Sevilla ]

It wasn’t a matter of bounces, as United was outplayed by the visitors and failed to show anything clinical in attack aside from a Jesse Lingard chance and workmanlike 90 minutes from Romelu Lukaku.

Here are three things we gathered from the contest.

Alexis invisible

For a guy making loads and loads of money and seeking a more ambitious club than Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez essentially went missing at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

The No. 7 red shirt was involved in some combination play, creating some first half chances, but was nowhere near the difference maker he was so many times for the Gunners.

Maybe this is down to Jose Mourinho and Sanchez still familiarizing themselves with each other’s strengths, but the Chilean missed a chance to become an Old Trafford hero in a building which has seen so many heroes etch their way into memory.

UPDATE: You know who agrees? Rio Ferdinand, who said, “The whole 11 today were shocking.”

Mourinho not bailed out by De Gea

Just days after outfoxing Jurgen Klopp in a big derby win, Jose Mourino failed to deliver another winning tactical plan for Manchester United.

Mourinho entered the match with a nil-nil score line, and apparently didn’t think his side could score one more goal than it conceded at Old Trafford.

Marouane Fellaini started the match in the midfield, and the first half saw loads of balls sent to him at the back post for knockdowns. Super sub Jesse Lingard also started and was quite active, denied by Sergio Rico’s fine form.

Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were on the bench to start, both recovering from injuries but fit for substitute roles.

Was Sevilla prepared for more from United? Steven N’Zonzi seems puzzled by the hosts.

“I thought they were going to press a little bit more, but I don’t really want to talk about the game it’s a great win,” N’Zonzi said.

So often, Mourinho has been bailed out by his talent, in particular his dynamic keeper David De Gea.

But De Gea was slow to recognize Wissam Ben Yedder’s intentions on Sevilla’s first goal (below), and his attempt to slap the Frenchman’s difficult back post header over the goal ended up bounding off the post and into the net.

While he’s not the villain of the loss, he wasn’t near his impervious best on the United goals.

Lukaku makes some amends as the lone bright spot

Romelu Lukaku has, rightly or wrongly, been criticized for his big game performances.

He wasn’t perfect on Tuesday, but the Big Belgian was one of United’s lone bright spots well before he bullied his way into the box to score the side’s lone goal of the tie.

Just as he did against Liverpool at the weekend, Lukaku ran himself ragged tracking down passes and getting very physical with Sevilla’s back line.

It just wasn’t enough, as the bevy of busy and creative players able to play off Lukaku simply did not.

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool: Mourinho’s men grind it out

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  • Rashford 2-0 LFC at half
  • Bailly own goal gives Reds life
  • 200th meeting of the clubs

Marcus Rashford‘s first half brace gave Manchester United a 2-1 win over rivals Liverpool in a nasty tilt at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Liverpool is winless in five matches against Man Utd — the previous four were draws — and has only one win in 10 versus the Red Devils since the start of 2014-15 season.

An Eric Bailly own goal was the only way through for Liverpool, as the Reds dropped five points back of second place United. The victorious Red Devils are 13 points behind leaders Man City, but now 12 points clear of fourth place Chelsea.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rashford’s bullet opener followed a Romelu Lukaku flick of David De Gea‘s massive goal kick in the 14th minute.

Virgil Van Dijk missed a free header off a corner kick when his effort went off his shoulder and wide of the goal, and the other end of the pitch soon saw Rashford back in business.

Lukaku won a long ball and turned his effort to Juan Mata. The Spaniard was tackled, but the ball came clean to Rashford for another smashing finish beyond Loris Karius.

Roberto Firmino worked himself clear for a long hard rip in the 31st minute that fired right into the arms of De Gea.

It was close to a 3-0 when Mata hit a shot wide of the far post.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool looked better after the break, and Salah was defied by his touch and Chris Smalling off a Firmino chipped feed in the 50th minute.

Sadio Mane led a break and couldn’t find Salah. Ashley Young did well to cut out the danger, but Liverpool was just a hair off.

Liverpool got one back in the 66th minute when Mane’s hopeful cross was directed into the United goal by an almost impossibly positioned Bailly.

Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United: Red Devils roar back

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  • Townsend’s deflected shot opens scoring
  • Quick restart fools United for 2-0
  • Smalling heads in Valencia cross
  • Lukaku levels late
  • Matic wins it in stoppage

Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling scored as Manchester United made amends for a woeful start with a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday.

The win puts United back ahead of Liverpool and into second place in the Premier League. The Red Devils are a full nine points clear of fifth place Chelsea.

Andros Townsend and Patrick Van Aanholt opened up a 2- 0 lead for Palace, who remains in the drop zone with 27 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nemanja Matic was particularly active in the first five minutes, and showed he’d be a key factor in helping to shut down Palace’s twin towers of Alexander Sorloth and Christian Benteke.

James Tomkins tried an overhead kick off a scrum for Palace’s first real chance, while Wayne Hennessey leapt high to defy an Alexis Sanchez header at the other end.

Palace went ahead in the 11th minute, as Benteke was given time and space by Chris Smalling to find Townsend. The English winger’s shot deflected wildly off Victor Lindelof‘s head and beat De Gea. 1-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Van Aanholt’s seen his share of relegation scraps, and zipped onto a quick restart to dribble beyond a protesting Smalling and belt a shot past De Gea. 2-0, 48′.

Smalling got one back when Tomkins and the rest of Palace left him alone at the back post to nod Antonio Valencia‘s cross past Hennessey.

United was all over Palace for the remainder of the match, and Matic thought he deserved a penalty for an incident around the time of his hitting the post.

Palace conceded the equalizer in a painful way, as Alexis Sanchez’s deflected shot fell off the cross bar to Lukaku, who waited for Van Aanholt’s block attempt before pounding it home with his left peg.

Benteke and Sorloth each came for the lead in the 77th minute, with De Gea making an outstanding save on the former.

Matic’s winner, early in stoppage, was reminiscent of his goal for Chelsea against Spurs last season, as he belted a rebound from well outside the 18.

Lukaku suggests Premier League All-Star Game, so we pick XIs

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WARNING: This was done in about an hour, on a whim (Thanks, Rom). It’s up for wild debate, so please hit the comments section and go from there.

All Star games are mostly terrible. There’s little defense, less chemistry, and teams are basically hoping their best dudes don’t get hurt.

Plus, with the haves and the have-nots around, just watch a Top Six match and call it a day. In soccer, we just kinda accept international soccer as our best hope.

But Manchester United man Romelu Lukaku proposed the idea on Twitter, and PST’s Joe Prince-Wright quickly supplied the team parameters.

The London divide begs the question: Who would be on these teams, and who would win?

As it stands, the North looks to have an edge with the Top Three teams on the table and wild talent on Everton woefully underperforming at Goodison Park.

In terms of the table, Joe’s North has clubs 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20

The South has 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18.

Pretty even.

We’ll add a couple other parameters: Each club has to submit at least one player, and that players has to start. That would mean only one team would get two starters (and Man City would probably place five of the North’s six subs).

Also, the teams would be able to use all of their seven subs.

Team North (3-5-2)

De Gea (Man Utd)

Tarkowski (Burnley) — Hegazi (West Brom) — Lascelles (Newcastle)

Gana Gueye (Everton)– Mooy (Huddersfield)

Shaqiri (Stoke) — De Bruyne (Man City) — Mahrez (Leicester)

 Sergio Aguero (Man City) — Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Subs: Pope (GK, Burnley); Otamendi (Man City), Ndidi (Leicester), Sane (Man City), Sanchez (Man Utd), Lukaku (Man Utd), Firmino (Liverpool).


Team South (3-4-3)

Lloris (Spurs)

Duffy (Brighton) — Ake (Bournemouth) — Mawson (Swansea)

Kante (Chelsea) — Romeu (Saints)

Lanzini (West Ham) — Ozil (Arsenal)

Zaha (Palace) — Kane (Spurs) — Richarlison (Watford)

Subs: Courtois (GK, Chelsea), Hazard (Chelsea), Mustafi (Arsenal), Vertonghen (Spurs), Eriksen (Spurs), Dele (Spurs), Willian (Chelsea)


How about a couple of XIs with no limitations? (Sorry, Rom… formations!)

North (3-4-3)

De Gea (Man Utd)

Otamendi (Man City) — Van Dijk (Liverpool) — Kompany (Man City)

Matic (Man Utd)

 Pogba (Man Utd) — De Bruyne (Man City) — Silva (Man City)

Sanchez (Man Utd) — Aguero (Man City) — Salah (Liverpool)


South (3-5-2)

Lloris (Spurs)

Azpilicueta (Chelsea) — Vertonghen (Spurs) — Alderweireld (Spurs)

Kante (Chelsea) — Dembele (Spurs)

Dele (Spurs) — Ozil (Arsenal) — Hazard (Chelsea)

Kane (Spurs) — Morata (Chelsea)