Manchester United have safely booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-0 win over Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday.
First half goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku sealed United’s progress against their Championship opponents as they continued their 100 per cent record under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a fifth win from five.
However, Reading can take a lot of encouragement from their performance, having ended the match with more shots and more possession than the 12-time FA Cup champions.
Both the form book and the league tables suggested a comfortable home win, but it was Reading – 23rd in the Championship and now without a win in 11 – who settled quicker than a United side containing the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku.
The hosts did burst into life in the 16th minute when Lukaku, Fred and Scott McTominay were all involved in a slick move to set up Sanchez, who fired an effort narrowly over from just outside the area.
Fred had the ball in the back of the net shortly afterwards and, while the goal was correctly disallowed for offside, a lengthy VAR consultation lasting more than two minutes ruled that there had been a foul on Mata before the ball squirmed its way through to the Brazilian midfielder.
Referee Stuart Attwell therefore pointed to the spot, and Mata tucked the penalty away himself to settle any United nerves following an unconvincing start.
However, just when it looked as though the visitors might equalise United doubled their advantage with the last major action of the first half as Lukaku latched on to Sanchez’s incisive pass before rounding the keeper and sliding his finish into an empty net for his third goal in as many games.
The result leaves Reading boss Jose Gomes still searching for his first win in charge of the Royals – who as a club have not won a game since November 3 – but the visitors will take encouragement from their performance despite once again failing to score in another defeat.