Manchester United sealed their progression into the 6th round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 victory over fellow Premier League side Reading. United’s reward is a home tie against either Middlesborough or Chelsea who play on Wednesday 27th Feb up at the Riverside.
Sir Alex made 8 changes from the team that drew away to Madrid in midweek, with only De Gea, Jones and and Welbeck retaining their places in a youthful starting line up. Buttner Vidic, Smalling and Jones made up the back four behind Young, Cleverley, Anderson and Valencia in midfield. Welbeck played off Hernandez up top.
United started brightly, with the front six working together to play each other into Reading’s box resulting in chances for Welbeck and then Hernandez which were well saved by Federici.
Reading edged back into the game towards half-time though, leading to a tense atmosphere at an expectant Old Trafford. 3 minutes before the break, Phil Jones injured himself attempting to dispossess McAnuff and had to be replaced by Nani. Sir Alex shifted Valencia to right back, and played Nani infront of him for the remainder of the game.
After the break United continued to attempt to build attacks down either wing, with Nani noticeably involved in nearly every break, providing attacking intent, even if failing to match it in terms of his final ball.
With thoughts of a fixture-clogging replay creeping into the minds of the crowd, Ferguson played his trump card, bringing van Persie on for Young and sending Welbeck wide left.
Whilst the change certainly gave Reading’s defence another cause for concern, it was Nani who turned on the style with a low drive past Federici in the 69th minute. The relief was palpable, both in the crowd, and Nani himself who seemed delighted to have broken the deadlock.
Reading didnt lie down however, Adam Le Fondre forcing De Gea into another great save and prompting a chorus of his name from the Stretford End.
United doubled their advantage 3 minutes later with Nani involved again as an inch perfect cross led Hernandez to beat his man at the near post and nod the ball into the net before conceding a sloppy goal to McAnuff to set up a tense finish.
The Reds saw out the remaining 9 minutes plus stoppage time to seal their place in the Quarter finals.