That goal proved to be enough to see United through. Mourinho kept his nerve and, after sapping the momentum in the first half, further suffocated his opponent as the game went on as he has done so many times before. Back in February, the Reds were behind against Chelsea and won. Crystal Palace pulled six points clear of Southampton by drawing at Watford 0-0. “We started well, we went in front and then conceded a sloppy goal”.
Kane and Alli came close before the equaliser and Eric Dier’s deflected drive struck the post in first-half stoppage time, making Ander Herrera’s 62nd-minute victor and Spurs’ subsequent lack of a late rally tough to take.
This is the question that goes to the heart of Tottenham’s current position – and one that offers powerful arguments for and against.
This mouthwatering FA Cup tie continued to entice viewers and the first half became a tale of two halves within itself, as once Sanchez scored on the 23rd minute Spurs’ dominance faded and Manchester United continued to test Michel Vorm.
United steadied after the early Spurs onslaught only to fall victim to a clinical 11th-minute attack as Christian Eriksen was played in behind the advanced Ashley Young and crossed to set up Alli for the simplest of tap-ins.
The Belgian was brought on in the stoppage time for Alexis Sanchez. If it didn’t then it was a good job he still chose the Chilean.
Son and Eriksen were causing United issues in a dominant opening 20 minutes but the adage that when you are top, you have to make it count never rang truer.
Dele Alli scored early for Tottenham, who lost their eighth consecutive FA Cup semi-final. Alexis chased down every ball and made life hard for all four Spurs defenders.
“I have talked before to the press – Tottenham needs more time and of course with me or another (manager), but it is so important for Tottenham to keep going and focusing and working to develop a philosophy that would be fantastic for the club”.
He was the pick of the Spurs bunch, locating team-mates expertly to provide passes and attempting to weave through a tight United defence in the latter stages.
Sanchez, who has struggled to hit the heights since joining United from Tottenham’s arch-rivals Arsenal in January, finds Wembley an inspiring backdrop and took his goal tally there for club and country to eight with a tireless display.
Unfulfilling would be a ideal way of summing Sanchez’s fledgling career at Old Trafford, but great players turn up in the big games, and the Chilean certainly did that.
At West Brom, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp felt the host mounted a “useless comeback” given it has little chance of avoiding being relegated.
Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke believes Paul Pogba should stay at the club amid reports that the Frenchman wishes to leave at the end of the season. Subs not used: J. Pereira, Lindelof, Mata, Martial.
Subs: Wanyama (5), Lamela (n/a), Moura (5).
Chris Smalling may have been in the headlines recently for his goals against City and Bournemouth but it was keeping potent hitman Harry Kane quiet that caught the eye at Wembley. But Jose Mourinho is an expert at managing the biggest games, and he showed why again. But with Southgate watching at Wembley it was a timely reminder by Smalling with Russian Federation fast approaching.