Manchester United cruised past Reading in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday courtesy of goals from Casemiro (2) and Fred.
Erik ten Hag fielded a strong team with only one change to the previous XI. United captain Harry Maguire was drafted in for Lisandro Martinez.
The Red Devils dominated the first half with over 80% ball possession but failed to break the deadlock. The visitors parked the bus in front of their goal, hardly trying to take the game to United.
Marcus Rashford thought he had given United the lead but VAR ruled Wout Weghort’s involvement in the build-up as offside.
The home team went all guns blazing after the break. Casemiro scored twice within the space of five minutes to make sure United progressed to the next round.
Shortly after, Andy Carroll was handed a second yellow card for a late foul on Casemiro, leaving Reading with 10 men on the pitch.
Fred added United’s third goal before Reading pulled one back via a corner set-piece.
Here are the three talking points of the game.
Erik ten Hag does not believe in squad rotation
Many people thought that this FA Cup tie would be used as a platform to test the bench strength.
However, Ten Hag fielded his strongest possible team apart from rotating the centre-backs. Marcus Rashford, Antony, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes were all named in the line-up.
United are set to host Nottingham Forest next in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
They are virtually through to the final after grabbing a three-goal lead in the first leg. Most of the regular players can be rested in that game.
Old Trafford turned into a Brazilian playground
The Brazilians of Man United ran riot in the second half. Five of the six players involved in three goals for United are from Brazil. Casemiro grabbed a brace, first assisted by Antony and the second by Fred.
The former Real Madrid man is enjoying life in Manchester. His first goal was a magnificent chip over the shot-stopper after he made a wonderful run to get on the end of Antony’s pass.
He whipped a stunning curler into the net from long range and was soon robbed off by his delightful teammates.
Fred scored a goal by cleverly flicking Fernandes’ pass past Reading’s goalkeeper. The fans absolutely enjoyed Brazilian Samba magic at Old Trafford last night.
Creative Antony ran the show
The former Ajax forward has received some heavy criticism in recent weeks, and not all of it was unfair. However, tonight’s display shows why Ten Hag backs the 22-year-old to thrive at the Theatre of Dreams.
The right-winger turned inside with purpose several times to carve open Reading’s low block.
He enjoyed the space he was allowed to work with as none of the defenders tried to get too close to him.
His through ball to Casemiro’s first goal had a perfect weight of pass which the Championship outfit failed to defend.
He still needs to work on his crossing and develop more variability in his game but if he keeps his head on the right track, he can be an amazing attacking outlet down the right flank.
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