Manchester United beat Reading 3-1 at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup. Marcus Rashford had the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute, but VAR ruled it out for offside. Casemiro struck twice in the 54th and 58th minutes, assisted by Antony and Fred. Fred then struck in the 66th minute with Bruno Fernandes getting his fifth goal involvement in the last five matches. Reading got a consolation though.
United started well at the Theatre of Dreams with Reading setting up to sit deep and try to catch United on the counter. Tom Ince almost carved a chance after Casemiro’s pass was intercepted on the way to Tyrell Malacia. United tracked back and nullified the danger though. United had a chance in the fourth minute through Wout Weghorst who came close after Aaron Wan-Bissaka played a cross into the box but the effort was blocked and went wide of the post.
Marcus Rashford won a free-kick for United in the seventh minute with Christian Eriksen stepping up to take it.The Danish international struck the ball in towards the goalkeeper but it was just off target. United forced Reading into making a save in the 14th minute through Rashford with the effort palmed away. Eriksen was on the rebound for United but he failed to find the back of the net. United were definitely starting to threaten Reading more.
Antony had hard luck in the 17th minute of the match curling an effort into goal from the edge of the box which was not far from settling into the bottom corner of the net. Four minutes later, Weghorst was on the end of the good chance which resulted in Tom McIntyre sliding in and stop the Dutchman’s goal-bound effort. Antony had his initial effort blocked then it fell to Weghorst, who tried his best to score his second United goal since signing from Burnley on loan.
United had another great chance in the 26th minute, this time through Eriksen from the edge of the box but once again McIntyre was on hand to stop United from scoring. Antony had another chance on the 33rd minute, this time striking across the Reading goalkeeper and therefore wide of the target. Rashford has the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute but VAR got involved and ruled the goal offside, which was a shame for him and United.
The waste. appear for a penalty from United on the 40th minute after Casemiro went down after a challenge by Junior Hoilett but VAR saw nothing in it. Bruno Fernandes got involved in the last few minutes of the half with United still seeking a goal. He tried to fire a low ball into the box but it was cut out of play. Antony then had a chance but it was not good enough. Reading got a chance at the end of the half after a Malacia error but United recovered to avert the danger.
There were no substitutions for either team at the start of the second half. Harry Maguire started a good attack trying to find Rashford but the forward was unable to get hold of the ball. Fernandes then had a chance on goal, sending the ball high into the stands. Hoilett then had a problem with a nose bleed and required some treatment but was able to continue. United opened the scoring in the 54th minute with Casemiro getting his third goal of the season.
Antony played the ball into his compatriot and Casemiro played the dink past the keeper. Ten Hag made his first substitution in the 57th minute with Fred replacing Eriksen. A minute later, Casemiro had the ball in the net for a second time, assisted by Fred making it a Brazilian outing for United this evening. Casemiro hit from almost 30-yards this time. What a finish that was. Andy Carroll was shown a yellow card on the hour and send off five minutes later.
In between the sending off of Carroll, Paul Ince made his first substitution with Tyrese Fornah replacing Mamadou Loum. United then found a third goal of the match with Fred becoming the scorer after being assisted by Fernandes. What a finish it was for the Brazilian. Ten Hag then made a double substitution with Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri replacing Rashford and Fernandes – so there was no new record for Rashford at Old Trafford this evening.
In the 69th minute, Ince brought on Amadou Salif Mbengue for Junior Hoilett which seemed to pay off for the away side. Just three minutes later he had a consolation goal for Reading with Tom Ince providing the assist. A minute later, Ten Hag made another double substitution with Kobbie Mainoo and Anthony Elanga replacing Casemiro and Wout Weghorst. Ten Hag seemingly knew that United were through and rested more stars – give more a chance.
In the 75th and 76th minutes, Ince made a triple substitution with Dean Bouzanis, Michael Craig and Shane Long replacing Joe Lumley, Jeff Hendrick and Lucas Joao. Tyrell Malacia was booked in the 78th minute. All the substitutions seemed to take the edge away from the match but United were still banging on the door for another goal dominating the attack. United had done enough to get the win though and put them into the fifth round of the FA Cup this season.
United got the win, albeit not keeping a clean sheet, which would have the 179th clean sheet for David De Gea. That does not matter though – there is still time for De Gea to beat Peter Schmeichel’s clean sheet record at the club. United have moved on into the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup this season – the last 16 and will find out who they will face on Monday evening. Ten Hag’s side will now be thinking about the Forest match on Wednesday.
David De Gea: Could have had his 179th clean sheet of his United career but conceded Reading’s consolation goal six minutes after United took a 3-0 lead. He was not tested much throughout the match with Reading’s best chance coming as Malacia made an error at the end of the first half. De Gea was kept out of the match for large parts of it and could have brought a book to read or something else to keep him occupied. ★★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: The English right-back did well linking up with Antony on the right as United looked to find the goals. It resulted in Antony putting in his best appearance in a United shirt. Wan-Bissaka will keep his place at right-back as long as Diogo Dalot is injured and will be a rotation option with United still on four fronts this season. Ten Hag now knows that Wan-Bissaka is capable of and despite some mistakes against Arsenal, he’s done well. ★★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: It was not a challenging match for Lindelof who played on the left with Maguire on the right. United were hardly challenge on the attack with a mistake by Malacia almost costing United at the end of the first half and few credible attacks by Reading throughout the match. He could be back in the team on Wednesday as Forest come to the Theatre of Dreams. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are the first-choice centre-back pairing for United. ★★★★★★★
Harry Maguire: Did not get much wrong against Reading but there were some uneasy moments for him. He has not played much this season but when he has played he has given his best. Could have had a chance on goal, but didn’t head it. Got the better of Andy Carroll, who saw red in the match, with a good challenge on him. United have a decent defence this season, which has bags of improvement in it but he knows he’s not first-choice anymore. ★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: Seemed to be clumsy at stages in the match and could have cost United at the end of the first half cheating down the ball and was challenge for it. It was not his best match but he will need to learn the English way of football, which will take some time for him. He recovered in the second half but did not do enough in an attacking sense for me. He will come good though by Luke Shaw, when fit is the first choice left-back for United. Booked too. ★★★★★
Casemiro: Scored two great goals for United in what will be seen as his best match for United. He had great finishing for both goals, opening the scoring for United then four minute later, scoring from about 30-yards. Antony and Fred assisted for his goals with good play from his compatriots. Casemiro was replaced by Kobbie Mainoo in the 73rd minute of the match, presumably keeping him fresh for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi final second leg. ★★★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: The Danish international has been playing a lot of football lately. Fatigue is probably no something he is feeling or he would not be playing. Had some good chances on goal in the first half of the match. Did not last long into the second half with Fred replacing him before the hour mark – with it working out well for United with Fred assisting and scoring a goal. Eriksen is a great player for United to have this season. ★★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian winger was up for the challenge of Reading and tried hard in the first half to be a threat on goal. It did not happen for him though, despite him trying. He got his first assist of the season for Casemiro’s opener and won the ITV Man of the Match for his performance against Reading. It was his best match in a United shirt this season – something for him to build on and continue doing as the season progresses. ★★★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: Got his fifth goal involvement in the last five matches, scoring three goals and two assists. His assist came for Fred in the 66th minute of the match as United took a 3-0 lead over Reading. It was not the best match for Fernandes, who had some chances, sending one into the crowd rather than the back of the net. United controlled the match from start to finish. Fernandes was replaced by Facundo Pellistri in the 68th minute of the match. ★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Scored but saw it ruled for offside. Threatened for United at times but could not get on the end of a chance. The ten goals in ten consecutive goals for United at Old Trafford record will not have his name applied this time, but it does not really matter in the grand scheme of things. Rashford was replaced by Alejandro Garnacho in the 68th minute of the match, probably with an eye to keeping his fresh for the visit of Forest. ★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: Was a threat in the first half and could have had two good goals but was thwarted by both Lumley and McIntyre. The Dutchman is a decent striker and he compliments this United team. Granted, he is not banging in the goals but since he arrived at United, they have scored nine goals in four matches, with Weghorst scoring his first goal against Forest in the Carabao Cup. He will be an asset for United for the remainder of the season. ★★★★★★
Fred: Replaced Eriksen 57′. Got an assist and a goal in a match that saw the Brazilian dominance in the squad. Two goals for Casemiro, one for Fred with an assist for both Fred and Antony. What a night for Brazil at Old Trafford. Fred is a class player to have, especially this season, which seemed to be his best at the club. With Casemiro and Antony’s influence, United could have a samba style that actually works this time. Fred will be pleased. ★★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Rashford 68′. Came on to add more energy and tried and tried to get United further clear in the match. Having a run of minutes in matches like these will be good for the Argentinian international. He has something to give United and will be a thorn in the side of Jadon Sancho when he returns to the squad this season. Garnacho is a class act to have in the team and what he has achieved so far this season will inspire him. ★★★★★★
Facundo Pellistri: Replaced Fernandes 68′. The Uruguayan had some good moments against Reading and will have pleased Ten Hag. I would like to see him given more minutes this season, which will need to some with United still firing in all four competitions; Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup. He is capable of doing well and is a starter for Uruguay, so has something about him. Can’t criticise him right now. ★★★★★★
Kobbie Mainoo: Replaced Casemiro 73′. Glad to see him get more minutes in a first team environment and that will increase as the season grows as Ten Hag has noticed something in him. Granted, it is too soon to really get excited for him but he will be taking the chances that he gets and learning more when playing U21 football this season. Training with the first team will get him up to speed and in the coming season or so, he will really get his chance. ★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Replaced Weghorst 73′. I cannot criticise him for playing for United but I just don’t think that he’s going to materialise into a brilliant player getting minutes here and there. I don’t see much of an end product from him although he has pace, which is brilliant to start with. When Anthony Martial is back, perhaps Elanga will feature less with United light on forwards. A loan would be best for him though. ★★★★★★
Goals: Casemiro 54′, 58′, Fred 66′; Amadou Salif Mbengue 72′
Assists: Antony 54′, Fred 58′, Bruno Fernandes 66′; Tom Ince 72′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia; Casemiro (Mainoo 73′), Eriksen (Fred 57′); Antony, Fernandes (Pellistri 68′), Rashford (Garnacho 68′); Weghorst (Elanga 73′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Martinez, Varane, Williams
Bookings: Tyrell Malacia 78′; Andy Carroll 60′, 65′ s/o
Written by John Walker