Manchester United bounced back from being dumped out of the Champions League in midweek by reaching the FA Cup semi-finals despite another uninspired performance, as goals from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic saw off Brighton 2-0 on Saturday night.
Tottenham Hotspur also booked their place in the last four in more emphatic fashion thanks to Christian Eriksen’s double in a 3-0 win at Swansea to make light of Harry Kane’s absence through injury.
United manager Jose Mourinho reacted to the criticism of his cautious approach in losing 2-1 at home to Sevilla on Tuesday by making five changes, with star names Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba among those left on the bench.
And it was two of Mourinho’s most trusted soldiers that provided rare moments of inspiration at a snow-covered Old Trafford.
The Portuguese coach signalled out Lukaku and Matic for praise on Friday in a staunch defence of his record since taking charge of United.
The two combined for the hosts’ opener eight minutes before halftime, as Lukaku powered home the 25th goal of his debut season at the club from the Serb’s inch-perfect cross.
Brighton had plenty of chances to get back in the game after the break as Pascal Gross fired inches wide, and Jurgen Locadia forced stand-in United goalkeeper Sergio Romero into a save that established number one David de Gea would be proud of.
But they were made to pay for their profligacy as Matic headed home Ashley Young’s free kick eight minutes from time to ensure the 12-time winners will be present for the semi-finals at Wembley in five weeks’ time.