LONDON: Louis Van Gaal could yet end a turbulent season with Manchester United’s first trophy in three years after second-half goals from Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini ruined West Ham’s Upton Park FA Cup finale.
Rashford’s strike increased debate over whether the teenage should be taken by England to the Euro 2016 finals in France in June.
United held out to earn a semi-final clash with Everton despite a frantic last 10 minutes after James Tomkins pulled a goal back, and looked a world away from the side thrashed 3-0 by Tottenham on Sunday.
“I cannot say that when we lose 3-0. I’m very happy that in spite of that defeat we didn’t lose the spirit this evening.”
United made the breakthrough nine minutes into the second half United after Michail Antonio gave the ball away and Anthony Martial slipped in Rashford just inside the penalty area.
The youngster still had plenty to do, but he stepped inside Tomkins before curling a superb shot beyond Randolph and into the top corner.
Van Gaal’s side doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Jesse Lingard’s cross was blasted back across goal by Martial and diverted into the net by the knee of Fellaini.
West Ham, in their last cup tie at Upton Park before next season’s move to the Olympic Stadium, made a game of it when Tomkins bravely stooped to head home with 11 minutes left.
United held out thanks to a stunning double save from David De Gea to deny Andy Carroll and Cheikhou Kouyate, before the latter’s follow-up header was ruled out for offside.
“When they scored it made us very nervous,” added van Gaal. “At the end De Gea saved us, but over the whole match I think we deserved it.”
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic had said he would rather lift the FA Cup than finish fourth in the table.
While the second goal still remains a possibility, he will have to wait at least another year to achieve his main aim.
“They were better in two thirds of the game,” Bilic admitted. “We were really good in the first 15 minutes and the last 20, but other than that their passing was better than ours.
“Some of their players looked fresher, stronger and quicker. We tried, we created chances to equalise, but they were better than us for big parts of the game.
“But we still have big games, we are still in the competition for Europe, big time, and we want to fish as high as possible.”