Amad Diallo seals Man Utd victory over Liverpool in FA Cup match for the ages


Antony and Diallo

Antony, left, scored the goal that took the match into extra time, where Diallo, right scored in the last minute – AFP/PAUL ELLIS

With less than 20 minutes to go Erik ten Hag stood in his technical area with his hand on Antony’s shoulder. So, this was it then?

Manchester United were heading limply out of the FA Cup, again humiliated at Old Trafford by Liverpool, their season effectively over – and with it Ten Hag’s dwindling hopes of remaining as manager. And here he was turning to the £85 million misfit who was his biggest signing and greatest folly and who, without a goal or even an assist this season, has become a symbol of systematic failure.

But when the final, final whistle went – after the last-gasp goal scored by another of Ten Hag’s substitutes, Amad Diallo – it felt like everything had changed and, maybe with it, Ten Hag had saved himself as well as this campaign. Having already been booked Diallo was red-carded in the celebrations as he took his shirt off to earn a second caution. The chaotic moment captured the mayhem.

The 9,000 Liverpool fans stood still in disbelief amid the wild, unbridled scenes. They will rationalise this away. Their dreams of a quadruple are over, if they ever believed it was possible in Jurgen Klopp’s final season, and they will argue this was the third of the three priorities they had left having already won the League Cup. And yet. And yet this will sting. And not least because of the manner of the defeat and who inflicted it. United have not knocked Liverpool off their perch. But here was a little wobble for them to remember.

If they had lost, United only had a grim fight for fifth place, hoping they can catch either Tottenham Hotspur or Aston Villa, and hoping that might earn them a Champions League place. Instead they have also gained themselves an unexpected trip to Wembley and a highly-winnable semi-final against Coventry City.

The Championship side are managed by Mark Robins and while it might be an exaggeration to say he saved Sir Alex Ferguson back in 1990, with his headed goal against Nottingham Forest in the third round of this same competition, as United went on to win their first trophy under their legendary manager, no-one should underestimate the value of Antony’s finish to force extra-time. And Diallo’s one to win it.

They were not alone. Marcus Rashford also scored, also in extra-time, and the way he kept going and going captured a sudden spirit at United.

Rashford had missed chances and was at fault for Liverpool’s equalising strike that made it 1-1 in what felt like a lifetime ago by the end. But he showed resilience.

New-found spirit or back to the old? There has been such a debate about Ten Hag’s future since Sir Jim Ratcliffe gained control of the football side of United’s business and not least because of the distinct lack of identity the beleaguered manager has brought to the team.

Even such a remarkable, memorable, game for the ages such as this cannot be enough in itself to save Ten Hag but – finally – he went for it. Finally, he turned back to the Ferguson tradition of throwing on more and more attackers, of unbuckling the seatbelt and applying the accelerator. The handbrake was off. “We went into the risk,” Ten Hag said. And he does not usually do that.

As they chased the tie, once Antony was on, Ten Hag made more changes – not least with Diallo and Christian Eriksen and even Harry Maguire making a difference. The formation even went from 4-2-3-1 to 3-2-4-1 with Maguire at the heart of the defence and with Diogo Dalot and Victor Lindelof either side.

Then Maguire popped up at centre-forward, Lindelof was overlapping Alejandro Garnacho – who became increasingly influential – and was shooting into the side-netting. Who was that at left-back? It was Bruno Fernandes who has so often been justifiably criticised but who showed courage. He played like a captain and that was what United needed.

Ten Hag must use this as a turning point. As relieved as he will be to go into the international break on the back of such a stirring win, there may be a pang of regret that he cannot surf the momentum. But, at last, he has spared himself an inquest.

United’s chaotic approach is hardly a template for the way to play but what it might mean is a shift in mentality; a shift in belief. So often they look not only disjointed and unsure of how to play but also dispirited.

They lack game-management, also, and that looked like it would be the story as Scott McTominay’s early goal – prodding him from close-range after Rashford’s shot was parried – was over-turned close to half-time.

McTominay should have added a second before then but the ease with which Liverpool claimed their goals – with United backing off and lacking intensity – was embarrassing. Alexis MacAllister and Mohamed Salah scored and, it seemed, that would be that.

The only question was by what margin of victory would Liverpool win and United had to thank their wastefulness and the excellence of goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Klopp also had to make changes, forced by fatigue, with his squad not having the time to prepare that United enjoyed, and they appeared to weaken Liverpool. Still Antony’s late equalising goal to force extra-time came from nowhere as he swivelled and shot low.

And even after that Rashford had the opportunity to win it with the last kick of normal time.

When one of Liverpool’s substitutes, Harvey Elliott, restored their lead with a deflected shot it appeared the image of the game would be Rashford’s anguish as he held his face in frustration.

Instead, it was his ecstasy as he calmly scored from McTominay’s pass and his delirium as he celebrated with Diallo.

It was the 21-year-old forward’s first goal for United – and what a difference he made with his positivity and ability to win back the ball – but rather like Ten Hag it previously looked like he had little future at the club and was another expensive mistake. What will the goal mean? Will it be Ten Hag’s Mark Robins’ moment? Time will tell but how ironic that Robins now stands in his way.


Manchester United beat Liverpool in FA Cup quarter-final, as it happened


06:57 PM GMT

A tremendous match

and, as Jason Burt says in his match report above, one that might turn out to be a pivotal moment in the career of Erik ten Hag. Read Jason’s take above, and we will see you for the next one. Cheers.


06:42 PM GMT

Mark Pougatch

“Football. Amad game.”


06:41 PM GMT

The winner

Amad of Manchester United celebrates the winnerAmad of Manchester United celebrates the winner

Amad of Manchester United celebrates the winner – Getty


06:40 PM GMT

Jurgen Klopp

“United had a better start, we had not a good start. We adapted really well to what they did and we played a top game. At 2-1 up we had so many chances where we had to kill the game off, but we didn’t choose the right pass. Obviously the rest is history.  Normal time, nearly there. Extra time, nearly there, and then we lose the game.

“I cannot ask the boys for more. We have had a much more intense season and it has been hard. United took a lot of risks and I respect that. The longer the game goes our decision making does not get better. Congratulations to United for going to the semi-final, and we have a game less, or two games less, and we have to use that.”


06:38 PM GMT

Erik ten Hag

“If you want to go to the final, you have to win the semi. Coventry, we say yesterday, have a very good spirit.

“First 30 minutes was, for me, the best minutes of our season. We were really there, acting as a team. But then gaps between the lines and you cannot allow that against Liverpool. They outplay you. We changed things, went 1 against 1 and the mentality and belief was great.

“Marcus is resilient. He kept going. He was disappointed (not to score winner in 90 mins) but he kept going.

“I have said for many weeks that we have a team for the future that is very good. Players are progressing and developing. You see the potential.

“Despite all the injuries and setbacks we have been on a run. We can adjust and adapt. In the autumn we couldn’t do that.”


06:33 PM GMT

Amad Diallo

“What a game. I think we deserved it. The best goal of my career. I don’t believe it, this is football. When he gave me the ball I wanted to give it to him back.

“I forgot that I had got the first yellow so I am disappointed.”


06:30 PM GMT

Roy Keane

“That’s the draw United would have wanted, obviously. It might just be that it gives the manager a moment of breathing space.”


06:30 PM GMT

FA Cup Semi-Finals

Coventry City vs Manchester United

Manchester City vs Chelsea.

will be played on 20th and 21st April.


06:29 PM GMT

Shall we turn our attention to the draw?

Man United, Man City, Coventry and Chelsea.

Ian Wright is doing the draw.

“Shake up the ball bag,” says Wrighty. Heh.

First out….

Coventry vs…. Man United.

Man City vs Chelsea.


06:23 PM GMT

Atmosphere


06:21 PM GMT

We will have the FA Cup draw

shortly.


06:20 PM GMT

Keith Hackett

“Wow. What a game, but the goal scorer Amad Diallo removing his shirt and receiving his second yellow card followed by a red is a very big call. I was pleased to see the referee strictly enforcing the law. Neither team to their credit slowed things down with view of going to penalty kicks, and it delivered a fitting finish.”


06:19 PM GMT

Souey

“Normally when Liverpool are that dominant, as they were at 2-1, they put you to the sword. But credit to Man United.”


06:13 PM GMT

Joy

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes celebrate after Amad Diallo scoresManchester United's Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes celebrate after Amad Diallo scores

Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes celebrate after Amad Diallo scores – Reuters


06:12 PM GMT

Marcus Rashford and Bruno F talk to ITV

Bruno: “We have a young squad but when they get the chance we have to play. We have always had belief, it’s not about that. Sometimes you play well and sometimes you don’t.”

Marcus: “A massive game in the history of United.”


06:08 PM GMT

Full time: Man United 4 Liverpool 3

That is a hell of a football match. What a game. United were outplayed and out run for large parts of it but Liverpool couldn’t put them away and United have somehow won it at the death.


06:06 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 4 Liverpool 3 (Diallo 120)

United break! It’s 2 on 1…. GOAL GOAL GOAL!!!!  Garnacho carries the ball, he’s got Amad Diallo on his left, it looks like he’s not quite timed the pass perfectly but Diallo has got it, he carries it forward, and he scuffs a left foot shot past the keeper.

Manchester United's Amad Diallo scoresManchester United's Amad Diallo scores

Manchester United’s Amad Diallo scores – Reuters

Diallo celebrates wildly, he takes his shirt off… and the referee gives him a yellow card. And it’s his second yellow. The scorer is sent off! Absolute scenes at Old Trafford.


06:03 PM GMT

119 mins: Man United 3 Liverpool 3

But with 40 seconds on the clock, it’s Liverpool who have a corner….


06:02 PM GMT

118 mins: Man United 3 Liverpool 3

United the side who look the most likely to pinch it.


06:00 PM GMT

115 mins: Man United 3 Liverpool 3

Fernandes cannot walk, he’s hurt something, he’s playing centre half. Here comes Rashford again. He slides it across for the late arriving McTominay – who has put the ball just wide. Oh wow.


05:57 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 3 Liverpool 3 (Rashford 112)

He’s done it! Couple of missed chances but he’s done it now! Liverpool unwisely try to play out from the book, they lose it, McTominay carries the ball forward and pops it to Rashford. Marcus strokes the ball home to make it 3-3. Sensational.


05:55 PM GMT

Klopp and Elliott

Elliott and KloppElliott and Klopp

Elliott and Klopp


05:48 PM GMT

Agony for Rash

Marcus RashfordMarcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford


05:47 PM GMT

HT in ET: Man United 2 Liverpool 3

United probably had the momentum there but it’s Liverpool who produced the moment.


05:47 PM GMT

105 mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 3

Rash flashes the ball across the Liverpool goal – but where are the Man United teammates to tap it in?! Nowhere, that’s where.


05:46 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 2 Liverpool 3 (Elliott 104)

Not been a particularly eventful extra time so far but Liverpool have the lead! A thunderous strike by Harvey Elliott may or may not have beaten Onana but Man U didn’t close him down, Eriksen dangled out a leg and the deflection gave the United keeper no chance.

Harvey Elliott scoresHarvey Elliott scores

Harvey Elliott scores – Reuters

Here’s how it went in.


05:44 PM GMT

103 mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

Rashford with another chance wide, but that one’s definitely offside.


05:42 PM GMT

Hackett on the Rashford chance

“On the replay of the poor effort by Rashford with the final kick of normal time, it appears that had he scored it would have been chalked off for offside.”


05:40 PM GMT

96 mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

Harry Maguire has made an appearance and is gallumphing forward attempting to melon one in. Not on this occasion. No, he’s tried to cross it to Rashford.


05:39 PM GMT

93 mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

Mac Allister puts a header off target.


05:31 PM GMT

91 mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

Can United rouse themselves again?

Antony goes close with a left footer.


05:26 PM GMT

End of 90 minutes: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

Marcus Rashford! Eriksen picks him out with a ball over the top, Marcus is in the clear and he is offside. He controls it, he opens his body and shoots… and it drifts agonisingly wide. That’s the last kick of the 90 minutes.

AntonyAntony

The unlikely saviour – AFP via Getty Images


05:25 PM GMT

90+ mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

United throwing everything at Liverpool. They were the better side in the first ten minutes and they are finishing the stronger in the last ten.


05:23 PM GMT

90+ mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

United and their fans are well up for it, Rashford wins a corner. There will be four minutes added.


05:20 PM GMT

88 mins: Man United 2 Liverpool 2

Elliott has hit the woodwork! He slices the ball from a narrow angle and Diaz gets on the follow up but United have too many men back.


05:19 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 2 Liverpool 2 (Antony 86)

Antony, of all people, produces a bit of grit and quality. He fight shard to win it, he plays it out to Garnacho, who gives it him back. Antony shows good strength, swivels, and tucks the ball away into the net.

AntonyAntony

Antony


05:17 PM GMT

82 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

United have been poor but they’ve not given up.


05:11 PM GMT

77 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Liverpool are in control here. Not saying United cannot pinch a goal but it’s all looking pretty comfortable for the visitors.

Klopp brings on Gakpo, Bradley and Elliott. Salah off. Szoboszlai, Salah and Robertson the guys to make way.


05:05 PM GMT

70 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Good ball in looking for Rashford but the might Van Dijk is perfectly positioned.


05:03 PM GMT

The Salah goal just before HT

Salah celebratesSalah celebrates

Salah celebrates


05:01 PM GMT

67 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Liverpool starting to boss this. They’ve been dominant for the last ten.


04:56 PM GMT

65 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Salah receives it on the inside right position and tries his trademark curler with the left. Onana gets across and gathers.


04:54 PM GMT

62 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Nunez with excellent feet, squares Varane up, rifles in the shot. Onana blocks it manfully.


04:49 PM GMT

58 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Fernandes with a crunching, mistimed, tackle on his fellow number 8 Szoboszlai. That’s a foul and given that Bruno is on a yellow card, that’s a worrying moment for him…. No further action.


04:47 PM GMT

56 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Has started to rain in Manchester.


04:45 PM GMT

53 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Garnacho drills it across, it hits Robertson on the leg and then the hand but a VAR check has found no handball. Liverpool go up the other end and flash a shot wide. It’s end to end stuff.


04:44 PM GMT

51 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

United giving it a good go. Ferrnandes gets to the byline and gets the ball across but the officials fail to spot a tiny touch from Quansah.


04:39 PM GMT

47 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

Nunex gets to the byline and shoots from the narrowest of angles. Onana palms it behind for a corner.

United deal well with that.


04:37 PM GMT

46 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

United playing the ball around.


04:36 PM GMT

Second half ahoy

Can United get back into it? They were doing well apart from the, erm, two goals.


04:30 PM GMT

Souey

“United are so easy to play against. Players got past them and they’re leaving it to others. They need more individual aggression. You need to show more intensity in the big games, it’s like they are in training.”


04:28 PM GMT

Keith Hackett: ‘good first half from ref”

The VAR check was to determine if there was a foul in the build up to the ball hitting the back of the net. VAR correctly determines that there was no foul mode by Joe Gomez in dispossessing Bruno Fernandes and there was no offside in the build-up, or when Mohamed Salah scored the rebound. Goal correctly awarded.

A good first half performance by referee John Brooks and his team. Great credit to the players of both teams for demonstrating good player behaviour Brooks and his team will use half-time to review and prepare for the second half where the temperature of this game will rise. So he must not relax.


04:23 PM GMT

Half time: Man United 1 Liverpool 2

What an enjoyable half of football. United made a great start but Liverpool fought their way back. Here is Oliver Brown:

“Manchester United held the lead in this first half for more than half an hour, but at no stage did you detect much genuine belief among their own fans that they could capitalise. Such is the loss of confidence that has come from the squandering of so many winning positions. And so in a game where they could conceivably have been three ahead by now, had Scott McTominay not shot straight at Caoimhin Kelleher and Rasmus Hojlund not fallen flat on his back from the perfect shooting angle, they trail. And all they can hear, as they troop crestfallen down the tunnel, are the chants of ‘Allez Allez Allez’.”


04:19 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 1 Liverpool 2 (Salah 45)

Gomez plays the ball across to Nunez who takes a touch and fires at goal. The United goalie parries it out to Salah, who makes no mistake.

Not dissimilar to United’s goal, in fact. A good hit, decent stop but a bit unlucky to palm it at the opponent. Salah was never missing that.

They check for a foul in the build up. Nope.

SalahSalah

Salah


04:15 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 1 Liverpool 1 (Mac Allister 43)

Ooh ya! He’s crushed it. Excellent move from Liverpool, Jarell Quansah running riot with the ball at his feet, gives it to Darwin Nunez, who produces a perfect lay-off to Mac Allister, who smashes it home. Possible slight deflection off Mainoo?

Salah drew the full back (Wan-Bissaka) away by staying out wide…

Mac Allister equalisesMac Allister equalises

Mac Allister equalises


04:14 PM GMT

38 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Another angle of the offside.

OFfsideOFfside

OFfside


04:08 PM GMT

37 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Liverpool have it in the net. Is it offside? It is. Given  offside on the field by the lino and, although tight, that is offside.

Liverpool offsideLiverpool offside

Liverpool offside

Here is refereeing expert Keith Hackett: “Liverpool score but a VAR check for offside correctly ruled out the goal. It was a good decision by the Assistant Referee to raise the flag as the phase ended.”


04:07 PM GMT

35 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

And a second before that, some gorgeous feet from Mainoo, who dances past three, slides it to Rashford, who picks out McTominay. Scott hits the target but it’s beaten out.


04:06 PM GMT

34 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Excellence from L Diaz, cutting in and smashing the ball at goal. Well repelled.


04:02 PM GMT

31 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Mac on Mc action as Mac Allister brings down McTominay for the game’s first yellow card.


04:01 PM GMT

30 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

End to end flow, Szoboszlai having an effort.


04:00 PM GMT

28 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Garnacho with a clever ball through for Hojlund, but he loses his footing.


04:00 PM GMT

25 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Nunez wins a corner off Lindelof after a good run.


03:56 PM GMT

Great Scott


03:54 PM GMT

22 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

A foul on Bruno Fernandes gives MU a freekick over on the left. Bruno himself hits a very hard effort onto the roof of the net, not entirely clear whether he was shooting or crossing.


03:50 PM GMT

‘Nothing short of dumfounded’

The reaction of 8,000 Liverpool fans to Scott McTominay’s goal was nothing short of dumbfounded. There was no rage or recrimination, or even any sniping back at the United supporters’ crowing. Incredulous, they simply stood motionless with their ‘Thank You Boss’ banners, brought in anticipation of another joyous step towards a quadruple in Jurgen Klopp’s farewell season. It could yet happen, but this was not how their afternoon was supposed to start.


03:48 PM GMT

17 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Liverpool starting to put some move together, although sadly this one ends with Gomez blootering the shot miles over. “As a non-scoring full-back myself…” intones Lee Dixon on ITV.


03:45 PM GMT

14 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

Robertson’s soon involved at the other end. Clever little give and go, gets the ball back – and blazes over. Should have done a lot better there.


03:43 PM GMT

11 mins: Man United 1 Liverpool 0

United continue to turn the screw. Robertson slides in with a desperate block and United claim a handball but the Liverpool Scotsman was blameless there.


03:41 PM GMT

GOAL! Man United 1 Liverpool 0 (McTominay 10)

United piling on the pressure. Rashford causing all sorts of problems down the left, cute wee ball to Garnacho who drives at goal and hits and effort that the Liverpool goalie repels… but only into the path of McTominay, who arrives just at the right time to bundle it home.

Scott McTominay scoresScott McTominay scores

Scott McTominay scores


03:40 PM GMT

7 mins: Man United 0 Liverpool 0

Magnificent tekkers from Mo Salah as he watches a ball loop over Diogo Dalot’s head. Mo produces a lovely volley from a tight angle that creeps just wide of the post with Onana beaten.


03:37 PM GMT

6 mins: Man United 0 Liverpool 0

Szoboszlai has Liverpool’s first effort but Onana is on that all day long.


03:36 PM GMT

5 mins: Man United 0 Liverpool 0

Hojlund tries to release Garnacho with the crossfielder but just overdoes it.


03:34 PM GMT

4 mins: Man United 0 Liverpool 0

United really putting it up to Liverpool. Garnacho picks out Rashford who drills a good hard shot at goal. Well saved.


03:32 PM GMT

1 mins: Man United 0 Liverpool 0

United make an excellent start, Marcus Rashford powering forward, Wan Bissaka also involved and a bit more composure would have seen Scott McTominay in there.


03:24 PM GMT

Excellent atmosphere at Old Trafford

Can that inspire United?


03:23 PM GMT

The captain


03:21 PM GMT

Tyson Fury talks to ITV

“Dream come true. Liverpool v Man United, most looked forward to match of the season. Hopefully United can roll back the clock.”

Gabriel Clarke asks him about Usyk.

“I’ll be ready, I’ve got nine weeks to go. I’m very fit and ready, but you can ask me in nine weeks.

“United need to go out and get on the front foot, and attack. It has worked for me 35 times in a row.”


03:14 PM GMT

Jurgen Klopp

Salah? “Pure quality, not everyone has that quality and rhythm. We have had special weeks, not all the times we really understood it. We need a really good game against a really strong opponent. Nobody get to a semi final with just luck, you need quality.”


03:13 PM GMT

Erik ten Hag

“Big opportunity, you look forward to play the big games. Huge game, lot of excitement in our squad and a lot of belief. You can feel it in the training ground this week.”

Hojlund? “I think he will refind rhythm, a lot of it is to do with belief. He has shown he is capable of playing in this league. He brings energy to other players.”

“Last time, at Anfield, we took them out of their comfort zone. And we have learned from that game. We had our chances and defended well. But you cannot compare any game, it is history, now we have to make the future.”


02:58 PM GMT

Sir Alex in the house


02:48 PM GMT

Good from ITV

as Mark Pougatch asks Roy Keane about Ole GS scoring a late winner against this opponent in the 1999 FA Cup, and then moves on to quizzing Souey about the era when shorts were short.


02:45 PM GMT

In the other quarter-final

Chelsea have finally broken the back of Leicester, making it 4-2 deep into time added on and they will now definitely be in the semis along with Man City and Coventry. Which of Liverpool and Man United will round out the quartet?


02:41 PM GMT

Reactions to the lineups


02:31 PM GMT

Teams

Man Utd: Onana, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Dalot, McTominay, Mainoo, Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Hojlund. Subs: Amrabat, Maguire, Mount, Eriksen, Diallo, Antony, Heaton, Kambwala, Forson.

Liverpool: Kelleher, Gomez, Quansah, van Dijk, Robertson, Mac Allister, Endo, Szoboszlai, Salah, Nunez, Diaz. Subs: Adrian, Gakpo, Elliott, Tsimikas, Gravenberch, Clark, McConnell, Danns, Bradley.

Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire)


02:18 PM GMT

Sir Alex Ferguson on Willie Mullins

Bit from the news wires about two all-time greats.

Parallels can be drawn between Willie Mullins and Sir Alex Ferguson in the aftermath of a memorable Cheltenham Festival for both.

Ferguson is no stranger to standing at the helm of one of the most successful operations in sport and was the manager who led Manchester United’s dominance in English football for 20 years.

His involvement in racing began on the Flat and he still has an involvement in that code, with Spirit Dancer a notable recent success having won the Bahrain International Trophy and the Neom Turf Cup over the winter.

Ferguson owns Spirit Dancer alongside Fred Done and Ged Mason, the latter of whom joins John Hales in making up the Ferguson-Mason-Hales trio that own both Protektorat and Monmiral.

Monmiral landed the Pertemps at 25-1 and Protektorat was a brilliant four-length winner of the Ryanair Chase, providing Ferguson with his first and then his second Cheltenham Festival winner in quick succession.

While Ferguson’s trainers, Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton, trained four winners and a single winner respectively, it was Willie Mullins who dominated the meeting with nine winners, six seconds and six thirds.

Among those winners was his 100th Cheltenham Festival victory, a landmark achievement that makes him the most successful trainer in the history of the fixture – a figure akin to the Ferguson of the racing world.

“What Willie Mullins is doing is fantastic, brilliant,” Sir Alex said of the Closutton trainer.

“You can only admire the man.”

Ruby Walsh, former stable jockey to Mullins, identified the similarities between the role of football manager and trainer, saying: “It’s awesome, an incredible achievement as a manager, because that what he is, a sporting manager.

“He is like the CEO, his wife is the CFO, his son is the managing director and he’s doing it all.

“He’s just an incredible manager, that’s what he is and the sport is lucky to have him.

“If he was in any other sport they wouldn’t be telling him he was too dominant.

“He’s just an incredible manager, that’s what he is and the sport is lucky to have him.”


02:14 PM GMT

Fancy a bet?

It’s an FA Cup classic as Klopp looks to add to his final season trophy cabinet. First he has to get past Manchester United who would love nothing more than to stop them in their tracks. Back your prediction for the game on these best betting sites.


02:05 PM GMT

English football’s greatest rivalry

Is renewed again as Liverpool travel to Manchester United for an FA Cup quarter-final. The kick off is at 3.30pm and we will have all the build up from the match, including the ITV television coverage and updates from our reporters at Old Trafford. The draw for the semi-finals will follow the game. Coventry and Manchester City are already in the hat, Chelsea and Leicester are still playing: the Stamford Bridge side looked to be cruising at 2-0 but a freak own goal has let the Foxes back into it at 2-1, and Raheem Sterling also missed a pen. You can follow that one by clicking the link.

Our full attention will be on Old Trafford, where Erik ten Hag’s side have suffered a blow in the lead-up to this fixture with the news that Casemiro is injured. The Brazil coach made that announcement.

Manchester United midfielder Casemiro is out of the Brazil squad for this month’s friendlies against England and Spain due to injury, coach Dorival Junior said, with Porto winger Pepe set to take his place.

Casemiro is the latest absence for Brazil, following injuries to Man City keeper Ederson, Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli and Paris St Germain defender Marquinhos, ahead of a match at Wembley on March 23 and one in Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu three days later.

“From a preliminary list of 50 names, 13 had already been ruled out by injury at their clubs,” coach Junior said. “Unfortunately, we also lost Casemiro. Pepe, from Porto, a forward by origin and now a midfielder, has been called up.”

Brazil play England next weekend.

Ten Hag said of this Cup encounter: “I think we have to save the season. We know we have to catch up in the Premier League but now we have an opportunity to win silverware. The only opportunity is the FA Cup, so we are only three wins away but big games and we have to play our best.

“Thisis a test for us, but we like the test, we like the challenges and we can be, to a certain range, relaxed because we believe in ourselves. But we have to prove (that).”

“So, of course, it’s about sticking together,” Ten Hag said. “You have to face it together and make sure we are always on one page together. You know around Manchester United there will always be noise.

“Don’t get distracted from it and know together where we are going. What is the project? But also what is the process?

“Then everyone knows why we are in the position that we are and how can we improve it? Then the attitude, always give your best. Every day deliver, then finally you will achieve your aims and your goals.”

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