Luke Shaw knows Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final shoot-out win “doesn’t put things right” for Manchester United’s Europa League humiliation but he is excited to have the chance to end a promising season on a high against Manchester City.
This has been an impressive first campaign under manager Erik ten Hag, who in February became just the second boss in the Red Devils’ history to win a major trophy in their first season.
Sunday saw United return to Wembley two months on from that Carabao Cup triumph looking to inject new life into a season that threatened to disappointingly peter out had they lost to high-flying Brighton.
Ten Hag’s side headed to London reeling from Thursday’s embarrassing Europa League quarter-final capitulation against Sevilla but – not for the first time this term – they succeeded in bouncing back with character.
United had to dig deep against Albion under the arch to run out 7-6 shoot-out winners after it ended 0-0 after 120 minutes, setting up an all-Manchester FA Cup final on June 3.
Put to Shaw that Ten Hag must have been pleased with the character shown by United, he said: “Yeah, of course, I think that’s exactly what he said.
“He said that’s a team out there today that we were, and he wasn’t sure what or who was there on Thursday night but obviously that wasn’t acceptable.
“Today I think it doesn’t put things right but it puts us in a good place to finish the season well because Champions League is a must for us and a Manchester derby now in the FA Cup final is an amazing game to be involved in.
“I’m really happy. For me, personally, I’ve been involved in two penalty shoot-outs and I’ve been on the losing side both times so to win one today was a big relief for me.
“But inside the dressing room we had the confidence against a very good side, they’re an amazing team. Let’s not get that wrong. And so, it was a tough game. But we stuck until the end and got that bit of luck in the shoot-out that you need.”
June’s all-Manchester final against potentially treble-chasing City provides a mouth-watering end to the season for United, who are well placed in their quest for a top-four finish ahead of Thursday’s trip to stuttering Tottenham.
Champions League qualification and Carabao Cup glory would still represent a good return from Ten Hag’s first campaign, but the mood would have felt downbeat had Sunday’s semi-final ended in defeat on the back of the 3-0 loss at Sevilla.
“I think us as players in the back of our mind that of course was there because at the start of this week it was the biggest week of the season,” said Shaw, who impressed at centre-back on Sunday.
“There was no doubt about it. A massive game in the Europa League and then of course this. It will have defined our season.
“I think if we get knocked out of both of them, then you’re right about the season (looking different). But I think today was a massive game, a massive opportunity to get into another final against a very good side and one I think everyone’s going to look forward to being involved in.”
United’s Wembley return to face City came thanks to their flawless shoot-out performance, with Ten Hag’s side scoring all seven of their spot-kicks.
Among the penalty takers were Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, with both players coolly converting at a ground where they suffered shoot-out heartache with England 22 months earlier.
The pair failed with their attempts in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy at Wembley, but impressively put that disappointment behind them to strike from the spot.
“I was next to Jadon and I said ‘whatever happens, happens, just be confident – it’s part of football, things happen, these things happen’.
“And I think maybe what’s playing on their minds are the things that come with it, the racism and stuff that they experienced last time.
“But, of course, for me, they showed amazing confidence to step up and because the last time they took one in a shoot-out it was, of course, here and the memories of that.
“But I’m really happy for both of them to put themselves forward and take really good penalties.”