Manchester United hosted Paul Ince’s Reading at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Erik ten Hag fielded a strong side, the same as he did against Nottingham Forest, with the exception of Harry Maguire who came in for Lisandro Martinez.
The Argentine defender was given a rest and had to do with a place on the bench.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 FA Cup win against Reading.
Sensational attacking first-half performance
The Red Devils undoubtedly had the better of their Championship rivals, as was widely expected before the game.
Many tipped United to dominate but what was striking was the manner in which Ten Hag’s men went full throttle offensively. A multitude of chances was created, with the final finishing touch the only aspect missing to make the performance perfect.
Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen, United’s primary sources of attacking inspiration were unsurprisingly at the centre of it all.
Eriksen in particular played his conductor role in the middle of the park to perfection and provided a few sublime line-breaking passes. The Dane also came close to opening the score with a good free-kick effort.
United fashioned most of their chances from the right side, where Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Antony combined well in the opening 45 minutes.
Wan-Bissaka put in a number of scrumptious crosses that were begging for someone to get on the end of. Like Tyrell Malacia on the left, Wan-Bissaka was all too willing to overlap when the opportunity presented itself and he even found himself inside the box a few times.
Antony produced a much more threatening performance and was a constant thorn in the backside of the Reading defence. He registered a number of shots to his name and would have been disappointed that he did not find the back of the net.
Wout Weghorst was a physical presence in the box and linked well with his teammates. He too came close to getting on the scoresheet.
Marcus Rashford thought he broke the deadlock after he headed the ball inside the Reading goal but a Weghorst offside during the build-up gave the referee sufficient reason to chalk the advantage off.
Maguire and Victor Lindelof also contributed to United’s attacking phases. They played so far up the pitch, sometimes inside the Reading half, which helped peg back the opposition and prevent them from getting out and doing anything meaningful.
Despite the score being 0-0 heading down the tunnel, Ten Hag would have been pleased with what his players mustered.
Brazilian samba magic at Old Trafford
In the second half, United’s Brazilian contingent took over and helped the team kick up a few more gears with some moments of magic.
Casemiro shed first blood with a beautifully-chipped finish after Antony put him through in a one versus one with the Reading goalkeeper.
Just four minutes later, Casemiro found the back of the net again, with a powerful curved shot that sneaked beyond Lumley’s reach.
Casemiro and Antony’s fellow countryman, Fred, came on as a substitute for Eriksen and got into the action.
Fred got on the end of a cross and flicked the ball inside the goal for United’s third and gave the team a commanding advantage.
The Old Trafford faithful certainly enjoyed the show put up by their Brazilian internationals.
The youth are getting a chance
With United firmly in the driving seat and in control, Ten Hag was afforded the opportunity to bring on the likes of Alejandro Garnacho, Facundo Pellistri and Kobbie Mainoo.
Before the game, the United boss spoke at length about United’s youngsters and how they fit into his plans at the Theatre of Dreams.
That he trusted them in a game of such magnitude speaks volumes and is a big vote of confidence in the young stars’ burgeoning careers.
In the time they were on the pitch, all three barely looked out of sync with the other senior squad members, with Garnacho and Pellistri especially looking sharp.
Mainoo’s passing was also crisp and purposeful.
They gave a good account of themselves and ensured the levels did not drop.