Manchester United beat Reading 4-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday. United could have scored many more goals, but it was just not the day for an absolute rout at the Theatre of Dreams with Jose Mourinho’s side sending former United defender Jaap Stam’s side packing.
Jose Mourinho made nine changes to the team which beat West Ham United on Monday with Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick retaining their place. United needed to keep their momentum going, which was important ahead of the visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening and the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday. United started well with two shots on goal in the first few minutes of the match, one of those from Wayne Rooney, who was chasing the record set by Sir Bobby Charlton back in the 1970’s. Rooney found the beck of the net minutes later, assisted by Juan Mata, matching Charlton’s 249 goal record.
United were the team in charge of the fixture, dominating possession over Jaap Stam’s side, putting a lot of pressure on them, effectively playing in their half of the pitch for much of the match. United doubled their lead through Anthony Martial, who played a one-two with Rooney before finding the back of the net. Marcos Rojo was replaced by Phil Jones in the 19th minute of the match after finding it difficult to play on after sustaining an injury. It was supposed to be Ashley Young coming off, according to the commentary. Marcus Rashford could have helped United to their third of the match, but he put the ball out of play.
Rashford had the chance to put United 3-0 up again, beating the keeper and putting his shot towards goal from an angle, hitting the side netting. United just did not look as if they were going to sit back, pushing Reading at every chance to increase their lead. United had a few chances on goal coming to the end of the first half; one through Rashford again, then a free-kick, which Mata and Rooney took, which amounted to nothing. United had another with Mata on the run in the box, but he was flagged for being offside. United dominated in the closing stages of the half, pressuring Reading just as much as they did earlier in the half.
Ashley Young had some good play on the right flank, dominating his player and getting the ball into the box for Mata to strike, only to see his effort blocked. United regained possession and went straight back on the attack with Mata against having the chance, but hitting his effort over the crossbar. Jaap Stam will not be happy with his side during the break as they did not make a tackle before United were 2-0 up. United were still 2-0 up at the end of the half and it could have very easily have been 5-0 with the chances United had on Reading’s goal. Mourinho will be happy with his side but will be looking for them to continue pressuring Reading in the second half.
United picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, on the attack. Rooney had a chance to make the record his own, but his shot was wide of the mark. Michael Carrick needed treatment for a cut to the head just after the restart, going off, but being able to continue. Bastian Schweinsteiger was warming up, but will not be needed just yet. United had yet another chance on goal with Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Rooney on the attack. Rooney had the chance to score his 250th goal, by Ali Al-Habsi had it covered. Reading ended up on a rare attack with United nipping it in the bud and countering. Mata had another chance for United, hit the side netting but was offside anyway.
Wayne Rooney had another chance to make that record his own with a header but was flagged for offside. United found themselves with a lot of defending to do with twenty minutes remaining, which changed their dominant spell in the match. At 2-0 up, United should have won this tie, but they should have carried on and tried to add a third to their goal tally. United won a corner, which Daley Blind took, but failed to create any danger, with a second corner being won, which again did not amount to anything. United still had possession, passing back to Sergio Romero, who started the attack again.
United found a third goal through Marcus Rashford, who was assisted by Michael Carrick with a tremendous pass from his own half. Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Bastian Schweinsteiger replaced Michael Carrick and Juan Mata with United possibly looking to continue their dominance and perhaps make it four against Reading this afternoon. Rashford capitalised from a defensive calamity between Al-Habsi and Liam Moore with Rashford pressuring Al-Habsi who could not pick up the ball from the back pass from Moore. United were four goals to the good. United had two chances in quick succession to make it five, but neither came off for the home side.
United have given themselves another match to play this month by putting themselves into the fourth round draw on Monday evening, which will help them continue their momentum this season. United are unbeaten in 14 matches now, winning their last eight, their longest run for a few years at the club, which is good to see. Rival fans can continue to moan about United again, which only confirms it will not be long before that fear factor fully returns. Jaap Stam’s side did not start all that well and had fought back at times, but were lucky they were not beaten by a much bigger scoreline.
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney
Goals: Wayne Rooney 7′, Anthony Martial 15′, Marcus Rashford 75′, 79′
Assists: Juan Mata 7′, Wayne Rooney 15′, Michael Carrick 75′
Manchester United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo (Jones 19′), Blind; Carrick (Fosu-Mensah 78′), Fellaini; Mata (Schweinsteiger 78′), Rooney, Martial; Rashford
Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic
Bookings: Ashley Young 54′