Manchester United progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday thanks to a 3-1 win over Reading. Casemiro’s brace got the Red Devils going in the second half after they dominated the first, while Fred came off the bench and added a third.
United started the game on the front foot with Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford producing good strikes from free-kicks, while Reading blocks denied Wout Weghorst and Eriksen from getting on the scoresheet in the opening 15 minutes.
The onslaught continued as the first half progressed, with Antony twice cutting inside and failing to hit the target with curled efforts from the edge of the box, while Bruno Fernandes also didn’t test Joe Lumley with two shots, and Weghorst snatched at a strike that flew over the crossbar.
United did find the back of the net via a Rashford header on 35 minutes, sparking jubilant celebrations that were short lived. A VAR check showed Weghorst, who headed the ball onto Rashford, was offside in the build up.
Yet for all the hosts’ first-half dominance, it was Reading who created the best opportunity in the opening 45. Tyrell Malacia, sleeping at the back post during injury-time, thought he had to control the ball, only for Junior Hoilett to nip and take it away from him. Luckily from a United perspective, the subsequent shot was fired right at David de Gea.
The opening period ended with Weghorst failing to make proper contact with a Casemiro pass into the area, one of 15 first-half shots for United, but only two were on target.
Yet it didn’t take long after the break for Erik ten Hag’s men to take the lead, with Casemiro latching onto Antony’s through ball into the box, before the midfielder scooped it over Lumley and into the back of the net. And the Red Devils doubled their lead on 59 minutes when Casemiro smashed a shot from around 25 yards, which flew into the corner with Lumley perhaps unsighted by Tom McIntyre’s attempts to head the shot clear.
Soon after, Reading’s chances of an upset were reduced further after Andy Carroll, already booked, slid in and upended Casemiro, resulting in a second yellow card for the former Liverpool man.
United were looking ruthless at this stage, and it was 3-0 on 66 minutes as Fred flicked the ball with his right foot into the back of the net from a Fernandes cross. The Reading defence then had to scramble to keep out shots from Alejandro Garnacho, Facundo Pellistri and Weghorst in a goalmouth melee, before Fred fired over.
On 72 minutes, the visitors got an unlikely goal back following some sloppy United defending that allowed Amadou Mbengue to have a free header in the box from Tom Ince’s corner.
Garnacho saw a late shot saved, while Antony also had a number of efforts which failed to hit the target in a quiet ending at Old Trafford. Here’s how we rated the players...