Louis van Gaal hailed Manchester United’s ‘unbelievable’ spirit after they beat Everton 2-1 to reach the FA Cup final.
Anthony Martial struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner at Wembley after Marouane Fellaini’s 34th-minute opener was cancelled out by a Chris Smalling own-goal 15 minutes from time.
United had dominated the first half, with Everton then mounting a comeback during which Toffees striker Romelu Lukaku had a 57th-minute penalty brilliantly saved by David de Gea.
The semi-final looked certain to head into extra time, but Martial then intervened to send the Red Devils into their first FA Cup final in nine years as they remained on course for their first trophy since 2013.
“I think in the first half we were the better team,” Van Gaal said. “We scored and created more chances, although we could have finished more.
“In the second half I think the referee changed the match.
“I have to say I think it was a penalty – I don’t argue. But I argue about over 50-50 duels that were not in our favour – when you do that over 10 or 15 minutes in a row, you have a big influence in the game.
“After that we scored the own-goal and it was 1-1, and then you saw we were showing our spirit. It was unbelievable. We were out of the game, but then back in it, and then Anthony scores a fantastic goal.
“We are lucky we scored in the last minute but we deserved to win.”