Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that yesterday’s FA Cup victory against Norwich City ‘was not the greatest spectacle’ and that the side lacked a cutting edge.
The Red Devils finally won the game in the second half of extra time after Norwich defender Timm Klose was sent off toward the end of normal time for pulling down Odion Ighalo.
‘It’s cup football for you, the game was not the greatest spectacle, but I felt we kept the ball okay but did not threaten or create chances,’ Solskjaer said.
‘We’re delighted to be in the last four and got a good work-out for many of the players.
‘We’re at Wembley, one step away from the final, so we’re going to give it a proper go.
‘As long as you keep winning, you look forward to the next game, so I think today everyone knows we can play better, but we’re through and everyone will be going back home smiling.’
Solskjaer singled out captain Harry Maguire for special praise after scoring the winner with just two minutes of extra time left to play.
‘It was nice for Harry Maguire to get the winner.
‘Two different goals, one you don’t expect at Tranmere, you’d expect the header to go in today but it was a fantastic save.
‘Harry’s been magnificent since he’s been to the club, his leadership skills are there to be seen, today he won every header and made every challenge.’
But the manager singled out Anthony Martial as the player who made an immediate impact when he made history coming on as the first ever sixth substitute in a senior professional game.
‘I thought Anthony came on and did really well, he made a little bit of a difference, runs down the channel, some great sprints and turns, he was positive.
‘With 10 men, we knew we had 30 minutes, we had to keep prodding and take our chances.’
Behind the scenes the manager will know that there is work to do ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Brighton, with a number of stars looking well off the pace and the likes of Bruno Fernandes potentially tired after 290 minutes’ football in the space of eight days.
There were really no excuses for the poor performance that resulted in gruelling extra time for the side.
However, in front of the camera, the Norwegian remained upbeat.
‘That’s all that matters in the cup, that you are through. You come through it with no injuries, you come through it with minutes on the board for players.
‘Some of them, you can see that they need to play to get their match fitness and we’re through so we’re delighted with that.’
United will discover who they meet in the semi-final this evening at around 7.20pm during the half-time interval of the Newcastle United and Manchester City game. Sheffield United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City are other possible opponents.
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