Man Utd 3-2 Brighton: Player ratings as Red Devils reach Women's FA Cup final

Man Utd edged a five-goal thriller against Brighton
Man Utd edged a five-goal thriller against Brighton / Ashley Allen/GettyImages

From Leigh Sports Village - Manchester United are through to the Women’s FA Cup final for the first time after a late goal from cult favourite Rachel Williams sealed a narrow 3-2 win over Brighton.

The Seagulls had taken a surprise first half lead through a Mary Earps own goal. Strikes from Leah Galton and Alessia Russo appeared to have put the hosts on course to win, until Danielle Carter equalised off the bench. But Williams, as she did against Reading in the WSL earlier this season, won it with only minutes remaining to send her team to Wembley.

United dominated the ball from the start, but Brighton began with an energy that showed their determination not to make it easy following the 4-0 drubbing the WSL leaders had dished out when the two met in the league only two weeks ago.

The hosts had early half chances, with Ella Toone blazing over inside the box and a breakdown in communication between Toone and Garcia at the vital moment seeing an opportunity go begging. Yet it also took a Maya Le Tissier intervention at the other to ensure a Katie Robinson cross on the counter wasn’t more dangerous than it was.

Brighton grew with confidence as the half progressed and looked a particular threat on the break due to Robinson’s pace and directness. A few Millie Turner clearances were necessary. But United continued to flex their own muscles and forced Lydia Williams into a few saves from Russo, Galton and Ona Batlle, the best to deny Russo with a tip over the bar.

The visitors were soon grateful for those saves when Veatriki Sarri ran at Batlle down their left flank and crossed dangerously into the box. In trying to punch clear, Earps inadvertently deflected the ball into the net instead. United tried to hit back immediately, but a good Russo chance trickled agonisingly past the far post, while Garcia struck one straight at Williams.

Back on the pitch for the second half noticeably before Brighton, United made a rapid start and equalised within two minutes of the restart. Batlle surged forward from deep and found Galton, who had drifted into the box, for a first-time finish. It was then only moments later when Toone narrowly put a shot too high.

Brighton’s threat was still clear when Julia Zigiotti Olme unleashed a screamer from outside the box, allowing Earps to redeem herself with a spectacular world class save.

United deservingly took the lead for the first time when Russo, whose press had contributed to winning the ball back, was fed by a perfect Katie Zelem through ball. Having seen earlier chances go begging, she made no mistake by firing high into the net this time.

Yet only four minutes later, Brighton were back on level terms. Toone got crowded out in midfield and as Carter chased down a ball forward, she nicked it from Turner and finished past Earps. The Leigh Sports Village crowd, singing about Wembley, was suddenly silenced.

Lydia Williams made a good save to deny Hayley Ladd from the edge of the box and the atmosphere inside the stadium built and built. But when Zelem found the smallest of gaps in the Brighton defence and put Rachel Williams through on goal, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

Man Utd player ratings (4-3-3)

GK: Mary Earps - 5/10 - The own goal will disappoint her as the cross should have been straightforward to deal with. Later made an incredible save to deny Olme.

RB: Ona Batlle - 8/10 - Beaten by the dribbling of Sarri for Brighton's opener but then made the equaliser with a similar run of her own. A constant source of danger in the second half.

CB: Maya Le Tissier - 8/10 - Distribution and range of passing from the back was excellent.

CB: Millie Turner - 5/10 - Had to make a few important clearances from crosses early on. Should have had the situation until control when was pickpockted for Brighton to make it 2-2.

LB: Hannah Blundell - 7/10 - Engaged in a competitive battle with Robinson until the England winger switched sides later on.

CM: Katie Zelem (c) - 7/10 - Sat deep to pull the strings like she usually does. Made Russo's goal.

CM: Hayley Ladd - 7/10 - Combative in the box to box role. Picked up a yellow card for a cynical trip.

AM: Ella Toone - 7/10 - Got into good goalscoring positions but narrowly missed the target a few times.

RW: Lucia Garcia - 7/10 - Stretched the game and appeared to have the beating of Pattinson from the start. A huge threat but unable to take her chances.

ST: Alessia Russo - 7/10 - Played her usual game all across the front line. Missed a few chances but also scored a clinical goal to make it 2-1.

LW: Leah Galton - 8/10 - Played on the shoulder of the defence. Nearly scored in the first half but equalised after intelligent movement straight after half-time. Also didn't neglect defensive duties.


Martha Thomas (for Garcia) - 7/10

Rachel William (for Russo) - 8/10

Aoife Mannion (for Galton) - N/A


Marc Skinner - 8/10 - Would have asked for more from his team at half-time and immediately got it. The decision to replace Russo with Williams when chasing a goal was also vindicated.

Brighton player ratings (4-4-2)

GK: Lydia Williams - 7/10 - Made a number of saves throughout to stop United potentially running away with it.

RB: Jorja Fox - 6/10 - Had her hands extremely full with Galton.

CB: Zoe Morse - 7/10 - Allowed Galton to ghost in front of her for the equaliser. It was a rare lapse.

CB: Emma Kullberg - 7/10 - Defended resolutely for the most part.

LB: Poppy Pattinson - 5/10 - Ran the risk of giving away a first half penalty with a crunching tackle on Garcia. Had a tough day against the Spaniard and later Thomas.

RM: Katie Robinson - 7/10 - Often Brighton's biggest threat on the counter with her pace. More effective in the first half than the second.

CM: Libby Bance - 6/10 - Worked hard to keep Brighton competitive. Did lose the ball in a costly position on one occasion though.

CM: Julia Zigiotti Olme (c) - 7/10 - Tested Earps with a screamer at 1-1. Always tried to do something with the ball when Brighton had it.

LM: Veatriki Sarri - 7/10 - Made the breakthrough goal with direct and purposeful running.

ST: Elisabeth Terland - 5/10 - Worked for the team without much personal gain.

ST: Lee Geum-min - 6/10 - Worked hard out of possession to press. Didn't see very much of the ball but usually made good use of it when she did.


Danielle Carter (for Terland) - 7/10

Megan Connolly (for Bance) - 6/10

Kayleigh Green (for Sarri) - 6/10

Brianna Visalli (for Robinson) - N/A


Melissa Phillips - 8/10 - Had hardly any preparation time for this game and deserves huge credit for how close this game was until the closing stages.

Player of the match - Leah Galton (Man Utd)

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