Wembley, here we come
Martial the hero for United, but Rooney, Fellaini and de Gea also shine
(Chris Smalling 76-og)
MAN UNITED 2
(Marouane Fellaini 34, Anthony Martial 90+3)
From the laughing stock of English football to the toast of Wembley, Anthony Martial's first season at Manchester United has become one to savour.
Spending £58.5 million ($114m) on him was widely derided as an act of sheer hysteria from Louis van Gaal in an ever-growing Old Trafford balance sheet.
Moments like his match-winning strike in the FA Cup semi-final this morning (Singapore time) make it worth every single penny.
He dug United away from the rigours of extra time against Everton in an encounter which had once appeared their easiest passage into next month's Wembley showpiece.
For all the self-imposed roadblocks van Gaal's side had thrown in their way en route to the semi-finals, they almost could not have asked for a more comfortable bye.
In the sunshine, it had become as leisurely an evening stroll than anything else they have encountered this season. The only thing Everton had failed to do for the Red Devils was book their transport and accommodation.
That it was hardly a fair fight against a ramshackle Everton which had, miraculously, failed to concede a single goal in this season's competition before this morning's game mattered little.
Marouane Fellaini had appeared destined to steal the headlines, bundling home in the 34th minute after Martial had tormented Everton's makeshift right back Muhamed Besic, but Wayne Rooney delivered, as he so often does at Wembley, as their tour de force.
Lost amid the vaunting of Marcus Rashford, the England captain had found himself overshadowed by a younger, more attractive model upon his long-awaited return to the Old Trafford fold.
One look at the 18-year-old Rashford's current track record suggests that it has not been an oversight without foundation.
In Rooney's absence and, at a time when Martial lacking that same level of goal scoring consistency, Rashford has stepped up to the plate.
Rooney's qualities, however, cannot be measured in the current fits and bursts which continue to define the parameters of modern football.
Goals may have continued to elude him at Wembley but the one-time Everton striker summoned the quality to ensure Roberto Martinez was forced to stare down the barrel.
The 30-year-old had to clear United's lines, literally, after Romelu Lukaku had rounded David de Gea and hooked a shot goalwards.
In attack, he was similarly heroic; slicing the Toffees' defence with a series of incisive passes that cut open his boyhood club at will.
Had Rashford and Martial displayed the same level of swagger as their skipper, United would have been cruising by the time the half-time interval was signalled.
Rooney is fast becoming the player United and England want him to again become - and just at the right time.
He invariably faces a fight for his future, both at Old Trafford, with potential upheaval still on the horizon, and on the once safe haven of the international stage this summer.
Roy Hodgson appears increasingly swayed towards either Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy - or both - leading the line for England's Euro 2016 campaign.
Before the national team manager, Rooney offered a timely reminder why he should still be considered, even if in a revised role as a supporting cast member, a vital part of those plans.
Van Gaal is unlikely to require justification for his persistent inclusion of Rooney, irrespective of both fitness and form, but a fresh take on an already popular refrain did little harm to the striker's chances of staking a claim for United's next Wembley outing.
De Gea, too, offered a compelling case, that United should persevere with the temperamental fax machine which derailed his proposed move to Real Madrid last summer.
Repelling Lukaku's penalty after Timothy Fosu-Mensah had felled Ross Barkley was the latest in an impressive string of saves.
Had Chris Smalling not turned a Gerard Deulofeu cross into his own net, the Spain shot-stopper could have saved van Gaal single-handedly.
But it was at both ends of the field that van Gaal owes a debt of personal gratitude.
Manchester United have reached their first FA Cup final since 2007.
Romelu Lukaku has missed his last two penalties for Everton, after scoring his previous five in all competitions.