Ten Hag hails Man Utd performance as ‘best of our whole season’ as young trio picked out for praise

Ciaran McCarthy
Erik ten Hag, Manchester United, March 2924
Erik ten Hag is all smiles after leading Manchester United to victory over Liverpool.

Erik ten Hag said the first 30 minutes against Liverpool were “the best of our whole season” for Manchester United, and he hailed three youngsters for their top performances in the FA Cup win.

It’s not been the easiest of second seasons for Ten Hag as United boss. After finishing third in the Premier League last season, reaching two finals – winning the League Cup in one – a lot would have been expected.

But the Red Devils are sixth in the league and were dumped out of the League Cup early on, as Newcastle United exacted their revenge for being beaten in last season’s final.

As such, the FA Cup represents a chance for something to shout about, and United offered that in abundance in the quarter-final against bitter rivals Liverpool.

The topsy-turvy game saw United twice go behind after scoring the first goal. With their opponents on top with eight minutes of extra time to go in the thrilling tie, some might have expected things were wrapped up.

But up stepped Marcus Rashford to level things at 3-3, and Amad Diallo then picked the perfect moment to be a hero, as he slotted just his second United goal past Caoimhin Kelleher in the 122nd minute, capping off a famous victory, before being sent off for good measure after removing his shirt.

After the match, Ten Hag praised his side for playing the best they have all season in the first half-hour, when they were winning 1-0.

“The first 30 minutes was the best of our whole season, we were acting as a team but then we got gaps between the lines and you can’t allow this against one of the best teams in Europe. They outplayed us,” he told ITV.

But after falling behind, the United boss hailed the spirit of his side for managing to fight back and win the game, particularly picking out three young players for their mature performances.

“Then we made changes, we took risks and the players were wonderful. The attitude was great, a strong belief to win this game,” he said.

“We have a team that is for the future. Coming up are players who are developing very well like Diallo, [Alejandro] Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo.”

Championship outfit Coventry await in the semi-final, and while it’ll be a tough game, Ten Hag wants to go into it with the mentality that his side will beat them.

“To go to the final we have to win against Coventry, we will have to play at our best. We saw that Coventry have great spirit, a great mentality. We will prepare our best to play in the final,” he said.

He also hailed Rashford for scoring an important goal and keeping United in the game, allowing them a potential path to the final.

“Rashford is resilient, he keeps going, normally he finishes those moments but he kept going for another chance. That inspired the other players,” Ten Hag added.

READ MORE: Man Utd 4-3 Liverpool: Red Devils stun rivals in FA Cup classic as Diallo caps off famous win with goal, red card