Manchester United breezed to a 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the 3rd round of the FA Cup on Monday night.
Two minutes into the match, the hosts almost broke the deadlock when Sean Clare fired a ball across the face of goal to an unmarked Thelo Aasgaard, whose shot was expertly saved by Andre Onana.
Much like has been the case in recent matches, Man United’s defence proved far too easy to penetrate, with a lack of focus on marking and tracking back.
For the remainder of the opening 10 minutes, United were slow on the ball, dominating possession but doing little to threaten Wigan in their final third.
14 minutes in, United got their first opportunity of the match when Marcus Rashford cut into the box and drove in a grounded shot to force a save from the Wigan keeper, Tickle.
While the follow-up corner was cut out by the underdogs’ defence, United were quick to regain possession, with Rashford swinging a cross into the box that was headed out by the home team.
19 minutes in, United kept up the pressure as Alejandro Garnacho sprinted toward the box.
His pass reached Bruno Fernandes, who in turn flicked the ball out wide to Rashford, whose pass into the centre was deflected out for a corner.
Although the corner was easily disposed of, Diogo Dalot and Fernandes sparked a quick counter-attack with their one-two as Scott McTominay surged into the centre of the box.
While Fernandes’ pass found McTominay, the midfielder blasted the ball inches past the right-hand post in what was United’s best scoring opportunity yet.
In the 22nd minute, United’s attacking pressure paid off.
On collecting the ball on the left side of the box, Rashford passed back to Dalot, who surgically swung his shot from the outside of the box into the far-right corner of the goal to hand United the lead.
Minutes afterward, Rashford flicked a shot goalwards that Wigan keeper Sam Lloyd Tickle failed to hold onto.
While the ball subsequently hit the upright and rolled onto the goal line, the goalkeeper cleared just in time to prevent a second United goal.
A few minutes later, striker Rasmus Hojlund looked to get onto the scoresheet as he sprinted into the box and fired a shot at Tickle.
In a rare Wigan attack, striker Stephen Humphries took a shot from the edge of the box which skewed wide.
Hojlund came even closer to scoring on the 30-minute mark when his header off of a Garnacho cross beat the keeper only for the crossbar to deny him from scoring.
10 minutes before the break, Rashford fired a long-range shot that was saved by Tickle.
Although the save rebounded to Hojlund, he was unable to organise his feet in time in order to bring the ball under his control, allowing it to go out for a goal kick.
Clearly, Hojlund has been struggling with his newfound wealth of scoring opportunities after there were few and far between in previous matches.
Five minutes before half-time, Garnacho let rip a thunderous left-footed shot from outside the box that rattled the crossbar.
United appear to be within touching distance of a second goal.
As the half-time whistle blew, Erik ten Hag would be pleased with his team’s dominance so far in the match.
Still, United will want to make more of their chances going into the second half.
Two minutes after the restart, United came close to doubling their lead as Rashford took an opportunistic shot from distance that veered past the far post.
In the 57th minute, Wigan’s Aasgard knocked Raphael Varane in the face as the pair rose to compete in an aerial duel.
United’s medical staff came onto the field to attend to the centre-back, who was fortunately able to rise to his feet and return to the match.
After the game restarted, Kobbie Mainoo let rip a thunderous low shot from outside the box that forced the Wigan goalkeeper to make a full-stretch dive to stop his effort.
When Garnacho’s pass into the box was blocked minutes later, the loose ball fell to McTominay, who blasted the ball over the top.
The home side launched a quick counter-attack thereafter, with Mainoo showing quick reflexes to track back and dispossess winger Martial Godo.
United attacked again right after, with Hojlund taking a shot from the edge of the box that skidded into the keeper’s hands.
19 minutes from time, a penalty was awarded to United after Fernandes was brought down in the box after masterfully flicking the ball away as soon as the Wigan defender’s leg came in.
With no VAR in use, referee Anthony Taylor’s decision went uncontested.
Fernandes slotted his penalty into the bottom left corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way to double United’s lead.
Right after the restart, Fernandes looked to score from distance, however, Tickle was able to send the ball out for a corner.
Garnacho made a blistering run into the box in the 80th minute, laying the ball off the Rashford whose shot was blocked by Tickle.
With seven minutes of regular time left, goalscorer Dalot made way for recent graduate to the United first team, Willy Kambwala.
Soon after, McTominay left an incoming ball into the box for Fernandes, who sent his shot over the top.
While United may have been dominant, the team’s poor shooting is a cause for concern.
In the 87th minute, Garnacho was substituted for Facundo Pellistri, after which a long-range effort by Varane was deflected out for a corner.
In stoppage time, Rashford was substituted for debutant Omari Forson, while Hannibal Mejbri came on for Hojlund.
Although United marched to an easy 2-0 victory, their wastefulness in front of goal will surely be an issue for Ten Hag to address going forward.
Starting XI: Onana, Fernandes, Rashford, Hojlund, Garnacho, Varane, Dalot, Wan-Bissaka, Evans, Mainoo, McTominay
Subs: Kambwala, Pellistri, Forson, Hannibal