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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lukaku suffers big off-days - Five things we learned from Man United's win over Everton

Everton's Romelu Lukaku reacts during the Emirates FA Cup, Semi-Final match at Wembley
Everton's Romelu Lukaku reacts during the Emirates FA Cup, Semi-Final match at Wembley

Manchester United reached their first FA Cup final in nine years thanks to a stoppage-time goal from Anthony Martial in a 2-1 victory over Everton.

Former Toffee Marouane Fellaini put Louis van Gaal's side ahead at Wembley only for Everton to come back after the break, Romelu Lukaku seeing his penalty saved and Chris Smalling's own-goal levelling matters before Martial struck at the death.

Here, we look at five things we learned from the tie.

1. Now the heat really is on Martinez

The FA Cup provided a considerable silver lining for Everton boss Roberto Martinez in the 2012-13 season that saw his Wigan side lift the trophy as well as suffer relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Going into this contest - three days on from Everton's 4-0 hammering at Liverpool - amid growing anger towards him from Toffees fans and reports suggesting defeat would spell the end for his tenure, Martinez needed Wembley to prove a happy hunting ground once again.

But there was no comfort for him in the cup this time as his troubled week got worse. After a poor start, Everton battled back admirably but ultimately they did not have enough, and the Spaniard may well now be left wondering what the future holds for him.

2. The case for Van Gaal is getting stronger

There has been plenty of discontent among Manchester United fans over their club's manager Van Gaal, and talk of him being replaced this summer has been rife throughout what has generally been a disappointing season for the Old Trafford outfit.

But there have been various developments of late that Van Gaal could point to as evidence United should keep him - and this victory was another.

Young talent - such as Marcus Rashford and Martial - has been thriving in the side, Wednesday's win over Crystal Palace was a fourth in five Premier League matches as the push for the top four continued, and this Wembley triumph means United are one game away from finishing claiming their first trophy since 2013.

3. Fellaini is winning over United fans

Fellaini has long been viewed by many United fans as a player who does not belong at their club. But there have undoubtedly been moments where he has shown his worth and he certainly did here against his former employers.

The midfielder delivered an excellent performance, capped by a goal, that earned him a rapturous reception when he was substituted late on.

4. Rooney could be a midfield option for England

Wayne Rooney is another ex-Everton player who really shone as he once again played in a midfield role.

England boss Roy Hodgson was watching from the stands and must be wondering whether it would be the best way to use the Three Lions skipper this summer at the European Championship.

5. Lukaku is still prone to major off-days

Lukaku has had a very good season, scoring 25 goals in all competitions and appearing a lot of the time as if he is now really fulfilling the potential that has always been evident.

But his display here was a clear demonstration that the 22-year-old is by no means the finished article. With Everton really needing a clinical edge from him, Lukaku was guilty of several glaring misses from open play and saw his penalty kept out by David De Gea.

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