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United shock City to win all-Manchester FA Cup final

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Was this Erik ten Hag's parting gift?

A day after an inconveniently timed report claimed even victory in the FA Cup final wouldn't save Ten Hag from the sack, Manchester United delivered their performance of the season - and perhaps their best of the Dutch manager's two-year reign - with a 2-1 win over Manchester City.

Goals from two teenagers helped United to Saturday's surprise triumph at Wembley. Alejandro Garnacho preyed on a mix-up between Stefan Ortega and Josko Gvardiol to score the opener before Kobbie Mainoo finished a slick move for a two-goal advantage at the interval.

Erling Haaland smacked the crossbar and Julian Alvarez steered an inviting chance wide before Jeremy Doku picked out the bottom corner from outside the box in the 87th minute. City's attempt at a second-half comeback fell short after they failed to carve out another clear chance following Doku's strike.

"Incredible. Nobody believed in us," Garnacho told BBC One post-match. "But we're a team, all together. We fought, the game of our lives."

Alex Pantling / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Few foresaw this result. Ten Hag is apparently destined for the exit after United suffered their worst-ever Premier League finish of eighth and tumbled out of the Champions League and League Cup in disappointing fashion. However, the FA Cup teased a glimpse of light amid the gloom.

United lost 2-1 to City in last season's FA Cup showpiece, conceding the opening goal after only 12 seconds. This time, it was United who started strongly, wisely picking their moments to stand off or press City's rearguard. The blue-shirted players were unsettled on a few occasions.

Garnacho anticipated an error to give his team the lead. He chased after a long punt from Diogo Dalot that should've been dealt with by either defender Gvardiol or goalkeeper Ortega, but neither did their job. Gvardiol nodded the ball over the on-rushing 'keeper and Garnacho met it on the other side, tapping into an empty net from six yards.

Still, many would've backed City to overturn a one-goal deficit.

But then Mainoo, widely tipped as a leading light of United's next generation, made a shock win a distinct possibility. Ten Hag's side stretched City with a switch to the right flank and Bruno Fernandes, who had filled space near the edge of the box, disguised an excellent first-time pass to his right once the ball came his way. Mainoo poked the ball into the corner.

Chris Brunskill/Fantasista / Getty Images Sport / Getty

City increased the pressure in the second half after a halftime double substitution included the introduction of Doku, who was willing to run at United's deep defensive line. But aside from Haaland hitting the crossbar, Alvarez squandering a good opportunity, and Doku skipping inside and scoring to give City brief hopes of a fightback, City didn't create a great deal.

For the most part, Ten Hag's Manchester United nullified Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

"It's been a tough season with ups and downs. This is the only thing we've had to look forward to," Mainoo said after the final whistle.

"We knew we had to come together. The preparation for this game has been amazing. We've shown we can compete and win games."

Whether the FA Cup success is too little, too late for Ten Hag's tenure at Old Trafford remains to be seen.

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