LONDON: Manchester United substitute Jesse Lingard’s superb volley in extra time secured a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday for their first major trophy in three years.
However, their Dutch manager Louis van Gaal was left wondering whether it would be enough to preserve his job two seasons into a three-year contract amid British media reports that Jose Mourinho would be offered the job next week.
In a rematch of the 1990 final, which United won after a replay, underdogs Palace took the lead in the 78th minute when Jason Puncheon slammed home, only for Juan Mata to equalise less than three minutes later.
United central defender Chris Smalling was sent off in the extra period for a second yellow card but Lingard’s moment of class, as he drilled a stunning volley past a motionless Wayne Hennessey in the 110th minute, gave them the Cup for the first time since 2004.
Van Gaal, though, had little time to savour delivering United’s first trophy since the Alex Ferguson dynasty ended.
Within an hour of collecting the FA Cup, Van Gaal left his jubilant players to be faced with more uncertainty about his United future now the season is over.
Uncertainty faces Van Gaal despite ending title drought
For six months United have not challenged the veracity of reports that the American ownership will ditch Van Gaal before his third season in charge and bring in Mourinho.
United’s leadership still remained silent on Saturday, rather than publicly backing Van Gaal.
Fired by Chelsea in December, Mourinho did not comment when approached by reporters at a boxing event in London on Saturday.
Just before Van Gaal entered the Wembley news conference, fresh reports emerged that Mourinho’s hiring was inching closer.
“I don’t want to talk about leaving,” Van Gaal responded when it was highlighted that United haven’t denied it plans to recruit Mourinho.
“It’s fantastic to win this title for the club, the fans and also for me. Now I have won a Cup in four countries. Not many managers can say that so I am very happy.”
The 64-year-old Dutchman delivered a defence of his United reign and claimed internal restrictions prevented him from achieving more this season.
United failed to achieve their ultimate goal of Champions League qualification after finishing fifth in the Premier League.
MANCHESTER United manager Louis van Gaal (R) lifts the FA Cup trophy.—AFP
Instead United will go into the Europa League, along with West Ham United, after United’s Wembley win freed up an additional qualifying berth.
Asked about targets for next season if he stayed in charge, Van Gaal responded: “That’s dependable because also last season I have asked for players but you don’t think that the players I have asked [for] have come.”
Van Gaal complained that clubs more than double the cost of players when the record 20-time English champions make an approach.
“I need the players that I have asked [for],” he said. “I have said I want creative, fast wingers … and we didn’t do that because it was not possible.”
Clicking his fingers, Van Gaal said: “You are thinking everything is possible at Manchester United. No. I’m sorry. It is not.”
Underdogs Palace took the lead when Puncheon, who had only come on six minutes earlier, deftly controlled a long ball into the area and fired past United goalkeeper David de Gea.
But within three minutes Wayne Rooney went on a brilliant run across the edge of the Palace area and crossed for Marouane Fellaini to set up the equaliser for Spaniard Mata.
Despite playing the second period of extra time with 10 men after Smalling’s dismissal, United poured forward and Lingard’s goal secured a 12th FA Cup triumph, equalling Arsenal’s record.
“I saw it come across and it landed nicely for me, all I had to do was hit it sweet and luckily I did that. As a sub you always have to be ready. Thankfully I was,” Lingard told BT Sport.
Palace manager Alan Pardew, meanwhile, met with FA Cup heartbreak for the third time, having been on the losing side against United with the south London club in 1990 and overseen West Ham’s defeat on penalties by Liverpool in 2006.
“The players have given me everything,” Pardew said. “We played with heart and passion. It was a great cup final. Manchester United did the same. It made for an enthralling tie and a game that could have gone either way.”
Courtesy : Dawn News