Luke Shaw paid tribute to Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho for having the courage to take penalties in Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final shootout win over Brighton – and admitted that the racist abuse they suffered after missing from the spot in England’s Euro 2020 defeat to Italy may have been preying on their minds.
Rashford, Sancho and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka were targeted for abuse after failing from the spot in England’s agonising defeat to the Italians in the final of the Euros at Wembley nearly two years ago.
Rashford and Sancho were back at the national stadium on Sunday and stepped up to the spot as United beat Brighton 7-6 on penalties after both sides failed to score in 90 minutes and extra-time.
Shaw, who put England ahead against Italy in a game that eventually finished 1-1, was impressed by the character shown by both his teammates at Wembley.
‘Massively,’ he said. ‘I was next to Jadon and I said: “Whatever happens, happens. Just be confident. It’s part of football. These things happen”.
Luke Shaw (centre) hailed Jadon Sancho (left) and Marcus Rashford for taking penalties again
Rashford and Sancho were abused online for missing spot kicks during the Euro 2020 final
‘I think maybe what was playing on their minds are the things that come with it: the racism and stuff that they experienced last time.
‘But they showed amazing confidence to step up. Because the last time they took one in a shootout 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.
‘I haven’t spoken to them (again). Outside, it was a bit too much and then when we got in, obviously the manager speaks. But I’m sure there will be a bit of relief and I think very happy that they managed to take one and score.’
Shaw also played in the Europa League final defeat to Villarreal two months earlier in 2021 when United lost on penalties in Gdansk.
After overcoming Brighton, he added: ‘I’m really happy. I’ve been involved in two penalty shootouts and I’ve been on the losing side both times, so to win one was a big relief for me.’
Despite setting up an FA Cup final against Manchester City on June 3, Shaw admitted that United are still angry over the manner of their Europa League defeat to Sevilla on Thursday when they went out 5-2 on aggregate.
‘We don’t want to be known as the team that comes back after a poor result,’ he said. ‘But we showed character today. I think a lot of people thought that maybe we would lose.
Shaw said that the team were angry following their Europa League exit, but bounced back
It took a shootout to see off Brighton at Wembley and set up an all-Manchester FA Cup final
‘Inside the dressing-room we had the confidence against a very good side. Brighton are an amazing team, let’s not get that wrong. It was a tough game. But we stuck until the end and got that bit of luck in the shootout that you need.
‘It was the biggest week of the season, there was no doubt about it: a massive game in the Europa League and then, of course, this. It will have defined our season.
‘It was in the back of the players’ minds at the start of the week. I think if we get knocked out of them both, then you’re right about the season (looking different).
‘Thursday night obviously 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.
‘Today was a massive game and 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.’
Shaw partnered Victor Lindelof in defence for the first time, and Man United did not concede
Shaw revealed Erik ten Hag had spoken to him and Lindelof about their roles against Brighton
Shaw played alongside Victor Lindelof in central defence in the absence of Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire. Erik ten Hag has used the left-back in the middle before, but this was the first time he had partnered Lindelof as United kept a clean sheet.
‘Obviously, it’s not easy,’ he added. ‘If it was in a back-three, it’s a bit different. But when it’s two, it’s a lot different, to be honest.
‘Whenever I play there, I really enjoy it and obviously we had a couple days (to prepare). The manager spoke to me and Victor about it because against a team like Brighton they’re very tricky.
‘It’s something new but I love playing there. I love playing football. To get the win today was the most important thing.’