Man United 2 Reading 1: Lessons learned as Nani shines at Old Trafford
Man United 2 Reading 1: What lessons did we learn as a Nani-inspired United reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup?
United frustrated by missed early chances
United came up against a stubborn Reading side who were not going down without a fight. The home side started brightly and could have wrapped up the tie within the first five minutes. One minute into the game, Danny Welbeck had his shot desperately blocked before Antonio Valencia squandered a clear-cut chance as he misjudged his header in front of goal. For long spells in the first half, Reading were in control and created promising chances. The visitors were not daunted by the challenge of coming to Old Trafford despite having the worst away record in the Premier League. Jobi McAnuff was troublesome for Reading on the right wing as the Royals were positive in their attacking play and had the home side slightly rattled. United also had good chances but Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici was equal to them. A diving save to deny Tom Cleverley was sharply followed up by a acrobatic lunge to stop Ashley Young slotting home from close range. Substitute Nani was unlucky not to score as his speculative right-footed volley cannoned off the post late in the first half. United have been clinical all season but this half was one to forget as the tie should have been done and dusted in the early stages.
Red Devils overpower visitors into the next round
After a difficult first half, United picked up the pace and began to bully Reading out of the game. Their passing became more crisp and the fluidity of their attacking moves was too much for the visitors to handle. The introduction of Robin van Persie rallied the home crowd and added to the growing pressure on Reading’s defence. The breakthrough finally came when Valencia’s accurate pass found Nani with room inside the box; the winger was able to manoeuvre the ball onto his right foot and pinged it across Federici into the net on 69 minutes. United smelt blood and pounced on their enemy quickly after taking the lead. This time Nani was on hand to tee up Javier Hernandez with a cross whipped in at the near post – the Mexican took his chance by making a piercing run around his man and deftly heading the ball past the outstretched goalkeeper. In the space of three minutes United had dismantled Reading’s tremendous performance in critical fashion. The Reds did, however, leave the door open for regular escape artists Reading. McAnuff’s neat finish beat David De Gea after a lapse in concentration from the United back four with nine minutes still remaining. But United were always in the driving seat and they will be pleased with the typical solid performance that they have become accustom to over the years at Old Trafford.
Super-sub Nani sparkles
Nani was the star of the show, the man who has been normally been the cause of frustration throughout the season was actually the man to get them solve their problems on the night. A goal, an assist and abundance of creative chances that spurred Federici into action capped off Nani’s best performance for the club this campaign. He was energetic from the outset and looked United’s biggest threat going forward. The out-of-favour winger has staked his claim with this outing to get back into the starting line up after being exiled to the substitutes bench. United will face either Chelsea or Middlesborough in the quarter-final of the FA Cup and the Reds will be confident that they can win the trophy for the first time since 2004.