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Even with United in final, Van Gaal won't discuss future

Published:Sunday | April 24, 2016 | 4:00 AM
United’s manager Louis van Gaal (left) and United’s Anthony Martial celebrate after winning the English FA Cup semi-final soccer match against Everton at Wembley stadium in London yesterday.

LONDON (AP):

Qualifying for the Champions League looks increasingly out of reach for Manchester United. The season could still end with silverware after Louis van Gaal's side reached the FA Cup final by beating Everton yesterday.

And yet van Gaal still has the air of a manager who could be leaving his job.

Even amid the joy at seeing Anthony Martial score in the third minute of stoppage time to clinch a 2-1 victory over Everton in the semi-final, van Gaal responded curtly to a question about the team beyond this season.

"I am not looking beyond this competition, the FA Cup, because we live in the present," van Gaal said. "As for the future, I will discuss that with my board and not with you."

When it was pointed out that he had another season remaining on his contract, the 64-year-old Dutchman said: "Yes. You repeat what I have always said."

 

Brought down

 

Martial set up Marouane Fellaini's opener in the 34th minute against his former club. Although David de Gea saved Romelu Lukaku's penalty early in the second half to preserve United's lead after Ross Barkley was brought down by Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Gerard Deulofeu's cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by United defender Chris Smalling with 15 minutes remaining.

Martial's winner was a slick completion of a rapid attack that prevented extra time. The 20-year-old France forward linked up with Marcus Rashford on the left flank and then played another one-two with Ander Herrera before slotting in the winner.

The 11-time FA Cup winners will discover today whether Crystal Palace or Watford will be their opponent in the May 21 final.

With four games remaining, United remain fifth, four points behind Arsenal, who play relegation-threatened Sunderland today.

Crosstown rivals Manchester City are a further point ahead in third place after beating Stoke 4-0 in one of four Premier League games yesterday. Kelechi Iheanacho, City's 19-year-old forward, scored twice after first-half goals from Fernando and Sergio Aguero from the penalty spot.

Newcastle remained in the relegation zone despite coming from behind to draw 2-2 at Liverpool, who announced before the game that defender Mamadou Sakho failed a drugs test before a Europa League game last month.

After conceding goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana in the first half, Rafa Benitez's Newcastle salvaged a point, thanks to strikes from Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback on the manager's return to the club he won the Champions League with in 2005.

 

Disappointing season

 

Southampton kept alive their outside shot at qualifying for the Europa League by compounding already-relegated Aston Villa's woes. Dusan Tadic scored twice in a 4-2 victory for seventh-place Southampton, between headers from Shane Long and Sadio Mane.

Deposed champions Chelsea are a place behind after cruising to a 4-1 victory at Bournemouth, who have already secured a second season in the Premier League.

Cesc Fabregas played a key role in all four goals, including Eden Hazard's double that produced his first league goals of a disappointing season for the reigning player of the year. Pedro Rodriguez and Willian also scored for Chelsea.

The focus shifts to the title race in the coming days. Leicester, who have a five-point lead over Tottenham, host Swansea today. Tottenham face West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane tomorrow.