Garnacho and Mainoo stun title winners in FA Cup final to give Ten Hag perfect send-off

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HERE, in what was likely to be his last match as Manchester United manager, was Erik ten Hag’s ‘football bloody hell!’ moment.

In one of the greatest FA Cup final upsets of recent times, Manchester City blew their chance of an historic ‘double Double’ as first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo sunk Pep Guardiola’s champions.

Garnacho tapped into an empty net after a mix-up at the back for City

Mainoo coolly slotted past Stefan Ortega to make it 2-0

In 135 years of English football history, no club has ever retained both the league title and the FA Cup in the same season.

And, thanks to a tactical masterclass from their Dutch manager, United gleefully wrecked the party of the one-time ‘noisy neighbours’ who have dominated them for the last decade.

It was Ten Hag’s second trophy in as many seasons and it was the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s era that United had triumphed in a cup final against the odds.

In the last largely-barren 11 seasons, United had beaten Crystal Palace, Southampton, Ajax and Newcastle to win trophies.

But this was the most impressive by far – at the end of a staggering Cup win which included the epic 4-3 defeat of Liverpool and the extraordinary semi-final which saw United chuck away a 3-0 lead against Coventry only to escape a last-gasp defeat courtesy of a cruel VAR call.

Ten Hag played without an authentic centre-forward, sucked City in and triumphed due to two long diagonal passes which stretched their rivals’ defence and led to those first-half goals.

Jeremy Doku set up a nervy finale with an 87th-minute strike but United held on through seven minutes of injury-time.

Ten Hag is likely to go irrespective of this famous win due to a lowest-ever eighth-placed Premier League finish as well as the humiliation of exiting Europe before Christmas.

But if he does receive a P45 he can keep it in a drawer alongside a Cup winner’s medal – and in the knowledge that he had out-foxed the greatest tactician on the planet here.

Before kick-off, there was the usual pomp and ceremony, hymns and arias, pyrotechnics and servicemen.

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And then United hoping to keep things tight for the opening 20 minutes rather than the 12 seconds they had managed before Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring in last season’s final.

But within a minute, Guardiola was hopping-mad, demanding a penalty for a Lisandro Martinez shove on Erling Haaland, which ref Andy Madley and his VAR ignored.

Ten Hag had dropped his top scorer Rasmus Hojlund, with Bruno Fernandes operating as a false nine.

England outcast Marcus Rashford teed up Garnacho who drilled straight at Stefan Ortega.

United packed the midfield, often had 11 men behind the ball, waiting for a City mistake and the chance of a counter-attack.

It led to a turgid opening 30 minutes before that long-awaited City error arrived.

Diogo Dalot, United’s best player by a country mile this season, spotted Garnacho and delivered a brilliant diagonal ball from deep.

Josko Gvardiol panicked and headed over an on-rushing Ortega, offering the Argentinian winger an open goal, to which he gleefully tapped in.

City had three-quarters of the possession until that point but they had been spectacularly ambushed.

United’s tails were up and Rashford sound found the net only for Garnacho to be ruled offside in the build-up.

No matter, six minutes before the break, United doubled their lead with an excellent team goal.

This time it was Rashford who picked out the long diagonal which stretched City, Garnacho fed Fernandes who teed up Mainoo to slot past Ortega.

It was staggering stuff.

City hadn’t lost a game outside of a penalty shoot-out in almost six months but United’s Cup run had been an extraordinary ride and here it was continuing into the final.

At half-time, Guardiola sent on Doku for Mateo Kovacic in a desperate bid for more width and Manuel Akanji replaced the struggling Nathan Ake in central defence.

Rodri tried to beat Andre Onana from inside his own half, Foden fell over his own feet when teed up by Doku and then Haaland thudded against the bar.

Garnacho and Mainoo stun title winners in FA Cup final to give Ten Hag perfect send-off

Guardiola dragged off Kevin De Bruyne, who had been strangely ineffective, and sent on Julian Alvarez on 56 minutes.

Kyle Walker let rip from 35 yards but Onana dived to push wide and then Alvarez blazed over.

Next Foden slipped a gorgeous pass through to release Alvarez who stabbed wide of the far post when he ought to have scored.

City were peppering United’s goal but to no avail.

Garnacho had a shot beaten away by Ortega at his near post as United’s counter-attacking threat remained.

Martinez and Walker had a rutting match near the touchline, just as United’s Argentinian Red Dwarf was taken off with cramp.

Hojlund, who had replaced Rashford, out-muscled Akanji to win a free-kick on the edge of the City box but Fernandes stuck it straight down Ortega’s throat.

Then on 86 minutes, Doku’s daisy-cutter from outside the area beat a blundering Onana at his near post.

But after seven minutes of injury-time were called, United clung on to take the Cup.

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