Everton 1 Manchester United 2
Playing in the FA Cup final at Wembley is the match that all players strive to achieve at least once in their career. Even the foreign players understand how special it is to appear in the season-ending showpiece.
Representing a last chance of a trophy this season for both sides gave the game that extra bite as United looked to overcome an Everton side who themselves have had a poor campaign.
With almost a fully fit squad to choose from van Gaal decided to pick this as his starting XI: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Blind, Smalling, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini, Rooney, Lingard, Martial and Rashford.
A few eyebrows were raised when the starting team was announced, but there was only one change from the side that beat West Ham in the quarter-final replay and that was Rooney in place of Herrera.
Fellaini was picked to partner Carrick in midfield. Carrick had endured a tough game up against Barkley in the recent league encounter, but this time around he would get the upper-hand.
The trio of Schneiderlin, Herrera and Mata would start on the bench. After scoring his first goal for the club in midweek Darmian would also be on the sidelines and the promising Fosu-Mensah would start in his place at right-back. Rojo returned to the lineup at left-back to make his 50th appearance for the Red Devils.
Rooney made his 20th appearance for United in midfield against his boyhood club and had the youngsters Lingard, Martial and Rashford ahead of him in attack.
An inswinging free-kick by Rooney was met in the box by Rojo but his header went wide. The match had started with the two sides on the attack and you felt that both defences were going to be kept busy throughout the game.
Lukaku had a second chance to put the Toffees in the lead, but De Gea blocked his shot after he had raced past Smalling and latched onto a ball from United old boy Cleverley. How many chances were the Reds going to give the Belgian forward?
The fast pace of the game would truly test the fitness of Rooney, who had only just returned to the team after a long injury. He was covering every blade of grass of the big Wembley pitch, in his deeper lying role.
There was a great chance for Martial after a neat passing move, however, when the ball arrived at his feet, he blasted well over the bar from the left side of the penalty area. It really could have been at least 2-2 within the first twenty minutes.
A nod down by Fellaini from a Blind cross fell to the feet of Rashford who side-footed a shot straight at the keeper.
Half-time and United led by the Fellaini goal and enjoyed a half that was full of attacking play and it was a surprise that it was only 1-0. Martial had a superb half down the left and looked dangerous every time United went forward.
Everton started the second half with United hoping to build on their dominance of the first half with no changes having been made by either manager.
The blues started the half brightly and mounted a few forays into the opposition's area to no effect as the United defenders were on their toes to any danger.
There was a golden opportunity that fell to Lingard, but the youngster snapped at his shot from a great position and it had to be put down to a wasted chance.
Up stepped Lukaku who blasted a shot towards the bottom left-hand corner. However, there was that man De Gea to save at full stretch and deny the Toffees an unworthy equaliser. Justice was definitely served and United was once again grateful to the Spanish keeper.
Soon after the penalty miss van Gaal replaced Fosu-Mensah with Valencia.
There was yet another penalty shout in the 66th minute this time against Jagielka who clearly handled the ball while falling to the ground by the near post under pressure from Fellaini. In all honesty Jagielka should have seen red as well but the referee turned a blind eye to the incident.
Everton at least tried to make more of a game of it and United was caught out in the 75th minute as Smalling unwittingly diverted a wicked low cross into his own net to make the score level.
The Blues were by now on the front foot as United tried to regroup and start all over again. Would they rue the missed chances in the first half?
As the match entered the final five minutes Martial delivered a smart low cross from the left that Lingard was only inches away from tucking away. This was certainly a game of missed chances as both sides pounded each others area.
Van Gaal made a change in the last four minutes when he brought on Herrera for scorer Fellaini and his first taste of action was to be booked for a rugby tackle on Barkley, who was also cautioned for complaining.
A goal made and finished by the sensational French striker whose all-round display was brilliant, to say the least. The only downside was the yellow card he received for his celebrations with the United faithful. A ridiculous rule that has to be changed.
An astonishing end to a match that had all the ingredients you would expect from a cup tie. Drama and excitement with no end of chances for both sides and a penalty save to boot.
Fosu-Mensah and Smalling will also be thanking their teammates De Gea and Martial for saving their blushes.
As a team it has to be said that to a man the whole United side played superbly well and deserve so much credit for keeping their heads when Everton turned the screw during the second-half. At both ends United had two main heroes in De Gea and Martial, but it is the Frenchman that takes my vote for the man of the match award for topping off a mesmerising display with his cool late, late finish.
In the end, it will be United who return to Wembley at the end of the domestic season looking to end the long wait to lift the old trophy for the first time since 2004.
That's all for now as I'm off to catch my breath.
Thanks for reading.