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United had to hold on to their lead in the later stages .

Louis van Gaal impressed by Manchester United's spirit in FA Cup win at West Ham

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Louis Van Gaal felt his Manchester United players proved they are up for the fight after they defeated West Ham 2-1 to reach the FA Cup semi-final.

The under-fire Dutch boss took his side to east London for their quarter-final replay knowing defeat would only increase the calls for him to be fired.

But Van Gaal could yet end a turbulent season with United's first trophy in three years after second-half goals from Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini ruined West Ham's Upton Park FA Cup finale.

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Tense finale

They held on despite a frantic last 10 minutes after James Tomkins pulled a goal back, and United looked a world away from the side thumped 3-0 by Tottenham on Sunday.

"You cannot deny that my team has a lot of fighting spirit," said van Gaal after his side booked a Wembley date with Everton a week on Saturday.

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"When you come to West Ham, who have not lost at home since August and have beaten every top club, and we controlled the game.

"I cannot say that when we lose 3-0. I'm very happy that in spite of that defeat we didn't lose the spirit this evening."

Stunning strike

United made the breakthrough nine minutes into the second half United after Michail Antonio gave the ball away and Anthony Martial slipped in Rashford just inside the penalty area.

The youngster still had plenty to do, but he stepped inside Tomkins before curling a superb shot beyond Randolph and into the top corner.

Van Gaal's side doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Jesse Lingard's cross was blasted back across goal by Martial and diverted into the net by the knee of Fellaini.

West Ham, in their last cup tie at Upton Park before next season's move to the Olympic Stadium, made a game of it when Tomkins bravely stooped to head home with 11 minutes left.

Well-deserved win

And United held out thanks to a stunning double save from David De Gea to deny Andy Carroll and Cheikhou Kouyate, before the latter's follow-up header was ruled out for offside.

"When they scored it made us very nervous," added van Gaal. "At the end De Gea saved us, but over the whole match, I think we deserved it."

West Ham United v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Sixth Round Replay

Hammers boss Slaven Bilic had said he would rather lift the FA Cup than finish fourth in the table.

While the second aspiration still remains a possibility, he will have to wait at least another year to achieve his main aim.

Hammers frustrated

"They were better in two-thirds of the game," Bilic admitted. "We were really good in the first 15 minutes and the last 20, but other than that their passing was better than ours.

"Some of their players looked fresher, stronger and quicker. We tried, we created chances to equalise, but they were better than us for big parts of the game.

"But we still have big games, we are still in the competition for Europe, big time, and we want to finish as high as possible."

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Football
Premier League
FA Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo

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