Date:Saturday April 14 2007
Manchester United booked their place in the first ever FA Cup final of the new Wembley stadium with a convincing 4-1 win over Watford.
All right, it's not exactly a surprise, is it? The opponents are 20th in the Premiership, have not defeated United for a very long time and the game was held at Villa Park where Sir Alex Ferguson never lost a semi-final. But the fact is that our incredible season looks set to end in thrilling contests for silverware.
Fergie fielded a strong team and made only two changes after Tuesday's memorable victory over AS Roma: Paul Scholes replaced Darren Fletcher and Patrice Evra started in the absence of John O'Shea who is struggling with a calf injury.
We came out of the blocks flying, Carrick's magnificent pass set up Rooney in the 7th minute and the England striker lashed a ferocious shot under the bar to put us ahead. Further chances came and went then Watford's first real opportunity resulted in a spectacular goal: Hamer Bouazza is the second player in a week who scored the best goal of his career against us.
Fortunately, his goal's worth just as much as Daniele de Rossi's: nothing at all. A quick move, good work on the right from Rooney and awareness by Ronaldo resulted in a second goal just two minutes after the equaliser.
Credit must go to Watford as they never gave up. They did not have anything to lose in this game, for they were massive underdogs from the start. But they managed to give us a hard time just as they had done at Vicarage Road. Their long throws and crosses into the box always caused mayhem as our makeshift defence struggled to cope with their aerial threat.
At the first 15 minutes of the second half, it looked inevitable that Watford would score as they caused severe discomfort to United but ultimately lacked class and cutting edge to finish off threatening moves so a third goal put the game virtually beyond their reach. An excellent goal it was, with the effective and sharp Smith assisting Rooney for Wayne's fifth goal of this year's FA Cup.
It was really all over with that. Our 4-2-3-1 formation was tested again and though Scholes looked uncomfortable in the defensive midfielder's position, the attacking spark was always there. After the third goal, Watford looked stricken and they lost the initiative. Their aggressivity remained but their play became incredibly sloppy so it was easy to tear them apart with our counter-attacks.
Profligate finishing in the last 20 minutes denied us a really big victory but that would have been harsh on Watford who gave their all in a big occasion and even after Richardson's goal, they kept going - but the gulf in class was all too obvious.
Date:Saturday April 14 2007
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|Man Utd||3||-||0||Hull City|
|Man Utd||1||-||0||Crystal Palace|
|2. Man City||16||11||3||2||+19||36|
|3. Man Utd||16||9||4||3||+12||31|
|4. West Ham||16||8||4||4||+8||28|
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