MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – Manchester United set up a FA Cup semi-final against Brighton in remarkable fashion as Fulham captain Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off for pushing the referee in a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Mitrovic was shown one of three Fulham red cards in a matter of seconds as he barged into Chris Kavanagh for awarding United a penalty after a video assistant referee (VAR) review for Willian’s handball on the line.
The Brazilian was also dismissed, along with Fulham manager Marco Silva on the touchline.
United took advantage as two goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcel Sabitzer’s first for the club kept Erik ten Hag’s men on course for a treble of cup competitions.
“Mitro should control his emotions a bit,” said Silva. “If he wants to give me the red card I have to accept it because he didn’t listen to me at all. As I left my area I have to accept it.”
Fulham’s fury was partly born out of a penalty appeal for a foul on Mitrovic in the first half that VAR did not intervene to award.
“It is a shame the ref wasn’t shown VAR for the first-half moments,” added Silva. “It is difficult to be Fulham at Old Trafford, the VAR feels the pressure too.”
The Cottagers had been on course to reach the last four for the first time in 21 years when Mitrovic fired them ahead early in the second half.
United needed goalkeeper David de Gea to make a remarkable save to deny the Serbian a second before the tie completely turned on one incident 18 minutes from time.
Willian used his hand to deflect Jadon Sancho’s shot behind, preventing a certain goal.Kavanagh initially only gave a corner, but reversed his decision on seeing the replay to spark chaotic scenes.
Silva was first to be shown red for approaching the official near the VAR monitor.
Willian was then dismissed, but it is Mitrovic who faces the most severe ban after pushing the referee on the arm and then squaring up to Kavanagh. Fernandes coolly sent Bernd Leno the wrong way from the penalty spot to level.
United quickly made the most of the two-man advantage as Luke Shaw crossed for Sabitzer to flick home.
Fernandes inflicted the final blow as he blasted home in the sixth minute of added time to take United to Wembley on April 23.
Earlier, Brighton dashed League Two Grimsby’s dreams of a trip to Wembley with a 5-0 thrashing.
Fourth-tier Grimsby had made history on their way to the quarter-finals by beating five sides from higher divisions.