Willian, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Marco Silva were all sent off in the first minute of Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham. After a VAR review, referee Chris Kavanagh awarded a penalty and red card after the Brazilian handballed Jadon Sancho’s shot on the line. The attacker responded angrily, pushing the official to earn himself a sending-off, while Silva had received his marching orders for yelling at the ref while consulting the monitor.
Fulham had been in control at Old Trafford, with Mitrovic putting the visitors ahead early in the second half. The west Londoners, on the other side, disintegrated in seconds after Willian’s goal line handball.
After first awarding a corner kick after believing the ball had struck the former Chelsea and Arsenal star in the chest, Kavanagh was promptly ordered to the VAR monitor to amend his decision. The official sent Fulham boss Silva down the tunnel when he continued to yell at him while looking at the screen.
Following several replays, Kavanagh changed his mind, awarding a penalty as he returned to the field and dismissing Willian for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Mitrovic reacted angrily and shoved the referee, earning his marching orders immediately. He proceeded to yell at the referee and had to be calmed down by teammates and coaching staff, who eventually escorted him off the field.
The three red cards came in the space of 40 seconds, forcing Fulham to finish the game with just nine men.
Bruno Fernandes converted the penalty, and Marcel Sabitzer put United ahead two minutes later. In injury time, the Portuguese international completed the score as United capitalized on their numerical advantage.
Roy Keane was quick to criticize Fulham after Mitrovic, Willian, and Silva cost his team a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
“With the situation, particularly the penalty, and then the reaction from the manager and the players, it was really self-destruction,” he told ITV. “Obviously it’s an emotional game, we’ve all been there, but it’s a mad 90 seconds that’s cost them the game.
“Gabriel [Clarke] made the point there, it’s not necessarily about United winning the game, it’s about obviously Fulham finding a way to lose, so I have no sympathy for Fulham. They may receive one or two accolades, but they will not receive any from me. They had an opportunity and they blew it”.