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Yeovil Town 0-2 Manchester United: Reds scrap into round four

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Yeovil Town made United feel thoroughly uncomfortable at Huish Park, but the Reds eventually scrapped to a 2-0 win.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

If there's one word to describe United's FA Cup third round victory over Yeovil, it is uncomfortable. It was a violent, ugly encounter, in which the Reds found themselves struggling to match the aggression of their lower league hosts, and only two excellent second half goals settled the tie.

The game was scrappy from the outset, with Yeovil pressing high up the pitch and forcing United into a string of nervy defensive errors. They bombarded David de Gea's box with crosses and threw themselves fearlessly at them, as Paddy McNair unceremoniously found out after a bloody collision with resident attacking neanderthal Kieffer Moore -- a messy entanglement which left both players in need of partial mummification.

However, the whole United team needed some serious attention by halftime, with the Reds having abjectly failed to test Yeovil goalkeeper Jed Steer in the first 45. Louis van Gaal's rather peculiar response was to bring on Jonny Evans and Juan Mata for Luke Shaw and Rafael in a bizarrely narrow diamond formation, perhaps with the intention of combating Yeovil's extreme physicality. (Update: both Shaw and Rafael were injured. Surprise!)

Either way, it didn't work particularly well, and 10 minutes after the restart the hosts had the first clear-cut chance of the match. Evans inadvertently skimmed a clearing header back towards his own goal, though after pouncing on the loose ball, Yeovil striker Moore whiffed his shot and allowed de Gea to get down to make a surprisingly simple save.

With United looking worryingly as League One-esque as their hosts, they needed some inspiration. It was provided by Ander Herrera shortly past the hour, with one of the Reds' best goals of the season so far. A swivelling, dipping first-time volley from some way outside the box screamed into Steer's top corner, a piece of world class brilliance incongruous in a game as agricultural as its Somerset setting.

Save for a couple of brief scares, United managed to see out the following half-hour with little fuss, before substitute Ángel Di María marked his return from injury with a stoppage time goal on the counter-attack. It was a delightful chipped finish, but it was hardly the morale-boosting demolition job we were all expecting to see.