Manchester United were knocked out of the 2019 FA Cup quarter-final after losing 2-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Saturday. Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota scored the goals as Wolves returned to the semi-final for the first time since 1998, and United lost back-to-back games in all competitions under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Earlier, Manchester City fought back from two goals down to beat Championship side Swansea City 3-2. Sergio Aguero headed the winner late on at the Liberty Stadium as the Citizens joined Watford and Wolves in the last four.
The Hornets began the day by seeing off Premier League opposition Crystal Palace at home. A late goal from Andre Gray saw Watford through at Vicarage Road.
- Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace
- Swansea City 2-3 Manchester City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester United
- Millwall vs. Brighton and Hove Albion, 2 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
Wolves were comfortable for large periods against a sluggish United side. The hosts put backup goalkeeper Sergio Romero through his paces, forcing the Argentinian into splendid saves to deny Jimenez and Joao Moutinho.
Jimenez and Co. had to wait until the 70th minute for a breakthrough. Typically, it was the prolific Benfica loanee who got it:
Few players have been as effective leading the line as the Mexico international this season, but there is more to Wolves' attack than the brilliance of Jimenez. Jota has made a seamless transition from the wing to a central role, evidenced by his 76th-minute finish, which effectively settled the tie.
Marcus Rashford netted for the Red Devils deep into injury time, but it was too little too late for a team that failed to click through the midfield and forward lines.
Despite a strong lineup, including Paul Pogba as captain and Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial up top, United struggled to create chances. Solskjaer also lost the tactical battle to his Wolves counterpart, Nuno Espirito Santo.
City needed to call Aguero and Raheem Sterling off the bench after Matt Grimes and Bersant Celina had put the Swans in front.
The team from English Football's second tier was producing some slick and intuitive possession against pass-masters City. Manager Graham Potter had formulated a plan designed to keep the Premier League leaders on the back foot, a strategy working so well it forced opposite number Pep Guardiola to call on his star names.
Aguero and Sterling joining the fold forced Swansea goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt into action more often. He couldn't stop Bernardo Silva getting one back from the visitors in the 69th minute, but Nordfeldt did produce an outstanding double save to deny Gabriel Jesus, then Aguero.
Unfortunately luck wasn't on the Swedish stopper's side when Aguero stepped up from the penalty spot with 13 minutes left. The shot was going wide until a touch off Nordfeldt took it onto the post and in.
City now had all the momentum and kept hopes of the quadruple alive when Aguero stopped to meet Silva's pinpoint cross in the 88th minute:
Once again, though, fortune appeared to have favoured the away side:
Joe Prince-Wright @JPW_NBCSports
Sergio Aguero puts Man City 3-2 up late on. City were 2-0 down at Swansea with 20 minutes to go! VAR would have ruled that goal out though, as Aguero was clearly offside. Man City getting a couple of breaks, most notably VAR not being used at Swansea. #Swans 2-3 #MCFC | #FACup https://t.co/mfd44GfAOX
Regardless of any controversy, the comeback proves City have both the mettle and resources to win multiple trophies this season.
Watford boss Javi Gracia is using more limited resources in an intelligent way to fuel the Hornets' cup run. He started Heurelho Gomes in goal, despite the 38-year-old being set for retirement, ahead of regular No. 1 Ben Foster.
Gomes is "99 per cent sure" he will retire at the end of the season to take up a new role as a pastor, according to Simon Collings of the London Evening Standard.
Gracia did keep a strong midfield in place, so Abdoulaye Doucoure, Etienne Capoue and Will Hughes still bossed the middle. Troy Deeney and in-form Gerard Deulofeu led the line up top against a Palace defence missing centre-backs Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho.
Capoue opened the scoring in the 27th minute, but the Eagles found an equaliser two minutes after the hour mark when Michy Batshuayi pounced on a mistake and finished smartly:
Watford's strength in depth came to the fore when Gray was summoned from the bench and promptly netted the winner. The striker finished coolly after being set free by a deft ball over the top from Roberto Pereyra.
Gray's telling contribution proved enough to send Watford into the semi-final for just the sixth time in club history.
With either Brighton or Championship outfit Millwall set to complete the semi-final field, City are firm favourites to lift the trophy regardless of who they get in Sunday's draw.