Manchester United secured passage to the next round in the FA Cup with a nice win against Championship side Reading. It took some work after a difficult first 45, but in the end the midfield quality that kept them in control got them the goals they needed as well to put the tie to bed.
The first half went about as well as fans would have expected, with the only problem being the lack of end product.
From the first few minutes United piled on the pressure. Wout Weghorst had an early back heel effort and Christian Eriksen just missed the target on an angled free kick attempt. Marcus Rashford and Antony saw efforts denied as well in the first half hour, and frustration began to set in as they failed to find a way through.
Things really got frustrating past the half hour mark, with Marcus Rashford scoring at the back post after a header across by Weghorst, only for the goal to be called offside for a marginal call on the Dutch forward in build up.
A few minutes later United had a penalty shout after Casemiro was brought down on the turn, but no call was made on the pitch, making it difficult for VAR to overturn on the basis of a clear and obvious error.
The Reds totaled 15 shots in the first half with just two finding the target. Deflected and blocked shots played a role, but even with their strong display and dominance in possession they just couldn’t find the right shot or final pass.
The pressure kept up in the second half, and it wasn’t long before Casemiro finally got United through with a lovely run onto a through ball from Antony, chipping it over the onrushing keeper. It was a beautiful goal, perfectly worked between the Brazilian teammates, and Casemiro wasn’t done yet. Just moments later he doubled the lead with a nonchalant shot from distance that found the bottom corner, catching many off guard.
LOVELY FINISH FROM CASEMIRO AFTER A SUPERB PASS BY ANTONY! pic.twitter.com/3nWRwevCJ2— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 28, 2023
CASEMIRO FROM DISTANCE FOR HIS SECOND GOAL pic.twitter.com/O5nLQD9Ml1— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 28, 2023
Given the disappointment with the first half the start of the second half was catching everyone off guard, but it was just the start of the party. A stupid pair of challenges from Andy Carroll got him sent off, and soon after some lovely attacking moves culminated in a third goal. A short corner led to a pass near goal to Fred, who brilliantly flicked it onto goal with Nani-esque flair to make it 3-0.
Reading would get one back in the 72nd minute, with an error defending a corner kick letting Amadou Salif Mbengue in, but United were able to settle in again and take control over the 10-man Championship side.
So, United are on to the FA Cup 5th Round after two straightforward 3-1 wins at Old Trafford. The draw may not be as kind from this point on, but there are still several non-top flight clubs in the competition. They’ll have their next opponent soon, but first order of business is securing a spot in the EFL Cup Final, followed by a return to Premier League action in February.