Casemiro late header saved Manchester United’s FA Cup hope

February 29, 2024

Casemiro converted Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick to secure a 1-0 victory over Forest and set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal against Liverpool.

Casemiro late header saved Manchester United's FA Cup hope

Casemiro’s late winner kept Manchester United in contention to end a frustrating season with silverware as Erik ten Hag’s side defeated Nottingham Forest to go to the FA Cup quarter-finals against Liverpool.

Ten Hag won the Carabao Cup after a promising first season, but has come under increasing strain during a difficult second season that threatened to collapse if they lost at the City Ground.

However, last year’s FA Cup finalists dug deep, as Casemiro converted Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick at the death to secure a 1-0 victory over Forest and set up a mouth-watering quarter-final at Old Trafford.

The 89th-minute winner, which took several minutes to clear by VAR, keeps United’s season alive after they were kicked out of Europe in December and had long ago played themselves out of the Premier League championship race.

Victory is a nice boost for injury-plagued United, who not only recovered from their home defeat to Fulham but also avoided extra-time before this weekend’s derby against Manchester City.

Ten Hag’s side had the greatest chances in the first half, although Forest had 14 after Antony, one of three changes from Saturday’s humiliating defeat, hit the crossbar with a first-time shot from Fernandes’ low cross just four minutes in.

Scott McTominay met Diogo Dalot’s superb cross with a close-range header that went straight at Matt Turner.

Casemiro scored a late winning goal as the Red Devils secure FA Cup Quarter-Final Spot

The visitors hoped to unsettle the disjointed Forest backline, whose goal Marcus Rashford headed over as Ten Hag’s side sought a morale-boosting opener.

But Forest had settled after a difficult start, with former Liverpool striker Divock Origi and target man Taiwo Awoniyi presenting issues.

Makeshift Left-back Sofyan Amrabat was struggling, and United’s midfield continued to provide holes that Forest were unable to exploit as opportunities could not turn into clear-cut chances.

In fact, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side might have trailed at halftime if Turner hadn’t made a fine stop at his near post after Dalot twisted brilliantly away from danger to cross for McTominay.

Both teams came from the break unaltered, with Forest starting brighter.

Elanga, a United academy graduate, battled and played in Awoniyi to force a stop from Onana, who was soon slapping away a rasping Origi effort.

Ten Hag’s side gradually regained control and began to force themselves, with Rashford’s penalty demands turned down after being sandwiched by two Forest players.

Fernandes bent wide with the outside of his right boot, and McTominay turned a low effort just wide as United dominated possession and shots in the second half.

Amad Diallo replaced the unproductive Antony and was unable to connect cleanly on a blocked Alejandro Garnacho effort, while Rashford lasered wide as they continued to press.

Forest provided little response, and Casemiro tried his luck as the clock ticked down, but United stuck to their duty and were rewarded with an 89th-minute set piece.

Fernandes swung a free kick from the left wing to the near post, where Casemiro’s tiny headed touch beat Turner, resulting in frenzied celebrations.

Forest was fortunate not to be relegated to ten men in stoppage time when Felipe gripped Fernandes’ throat.