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Manchester United shocks Manchester City in English FA Cup final as its teenage scorers make history at Wembley

<i>Hannah McKay/Reuters via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Alejandro Garnacho scored Manchester United's first goal.
Hannah McKay/Reuters via CNN Newsource
Alejandro Garnacho scored Manchester United's first goal.

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — Manchester United won the FA Cup on Saturday, defying the odds to defeat overwhelming favorite Manchester City 2-1 and deny its crosstown rival back-to-back league and cup doubles.

A week is a long time in soccer. On Sunday, Manchester City sealed a historic fourth consecutive Premier League title and was ready to cap a glittering season with another trophy at Wembley.

Pre-match there was a sense of inevitability about the result – United had lost six of its last seven matches against City and four of its last five finals, while City was enjoying another dominant season.

But United scored two first-half goals in quick succession – the first from Alejandro Garnacho, the second from Kobbie Mainoo – to rattle the Premier League champion and make this the first men’s FA Cup final, according to statisticians Opta, with two teenage goalscorers.

City continued to press in the second half, creating several opportunities that only brilliant goalkeeping from André Onana or the woodwork could keep out, before Jeremy Doku scored in the 87th minute, halving United’s lead and setting up a frantic seven minutes of stoppage time.

But United clung on to its hard-fought lead and its bench emptied onto the pitch after the final whistle to celebrate winning a trophy after an often miserable season for the historic club.

Their celebrations continued as Prince William, the President of the Football Association, handed them the trophy with Prince George alongside him, watching on.

“It was the last chance to get something positive from the season,” captain Bruno Fernandes told the BBC afterwards. “We were here last season and we weren’t good enough and we had to see them go up and get the trophy.”

“It is crucial for everyone. We know the manager is under so much scrutiny, he deserves this, also everyone in the backroom staff and the players, we all deserve this.”

A manager under pressure

Rumors and reports swirled before kickoff about the fate of United manager Erik ten Hag and whether he would lose his job regardless of the FA Cup final result. After two years in the job, and a promising start, the Dutchman has so far failed to turn around United’s dwindling fortunes and led the club to an eighth place finish in the Premier League this season, its lowest ever.

Such a backdrop to the final echoed the one in 2016, when one of Ten Hag’s predecessors, Louis van Gaal, was sacked just after he won the FA Cup final.

It has been eight years since then, 11 since legendary manager Alex Ferguson retired, and still United has not rediscovered the winning formula that made it the Premier League’s most dominant club in the 1990s and 2000s.

Instead, it has become mired in a seemingly endless cycle of hiring and firing managers once every couple of years, a cycle that Ten Hag looks to be in danger of repeating, even after this extraordinary shock result.

He cut a tense figure on the touchline, watching City dominate possession in the early exchanges, employing its usual method of wearing the opposition down through sheer force, but, this time, it could not break down the United defense.

Instead, it was United who took the early lead, capitalizing on a rare City mistake when a miscommunication between Josko Gvardiol and Stefan Ortega caused Gvardiol to head the ball over his goalkeeper, leaving Garnacho a clear path to tap the ball into the net.

Seven minutes later, United thought it had doubled its lead through Marcus Rashford though he was offside and the goal was disallowed, but that was no matter. It took just two more minutes for United to find the back of the net once again.

Rashford floated the ball downfield from just beyond the halfway line and found Garnacho on the other wing who passed inside to Fernandes in the center of the box.
The United captain delicately tapped the ball to Mainoo who made no mistake with the finish to give his side a 2-0 lead at halftime.

City seemed stunned and never quite settled into its usual rhythm. Erling Haaland had an opportunity but struck the woodwork and Julián Álvarez pulled a shot wide of the goal before Doku scored.

But it was too little too late and City succumbed to a rare defeat, bringing the curtain down on another dominant, historic season, though this one finished with one trophy, instead of the three it won last year.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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