Mata and Lukaku Send United Into FA Cup Fourth Round
By Max Wise
Goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku ensured Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began his reign as caretaker manager of Manchester United with a fifth straight win after a 2-0 victory over Championship strugglers Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The win sees last season’s FA Cup losing finalists progress to the fourth round of the competition with their next opponents set to be decided in Monday evening’s draw.
Reading put up a spirited performance on the day, which raises questions as to why they lie so low on the Championship table.
Manchester United, on the other hand, produced an unconvincing display with Reading shooting themselves in the foot by giving the ball away in cheap areas on numerous occasions.
Sergio Romero, deputizing for David De Gea, made two crucial saves to deny Reading from hitting the back of the net; first from Andy Yiadom’s powerful first-half strike, then denying Callum Harriott with his legs early in the second.
Juan Mata gave United the lead in the 22nd minute after the Red Devils were awarded a penalty following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervention.
Mata was clipped from behind before Fred scored from an offside position, requiring the referee to engage in a lengthy discussion with his assistants before awarding United a penalty.
Mata stepped up and coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way for his fifth goal of the season.
Romelu Lukaku scored United’s second of the day in the 45th minute following a lovely pass from Alexis Sanchez.
The Chilean’s side pass picked out Lukaku’s run who ushered the ball carefully around the Reading goalkeeper before slotting into an empty net.
Lukaku has now scored 13 goals in his last 14 appearances in the FA Cup, including six in seven appearances in the competition for Manchester United.