Manchester United cruised past Reading 2-0 in the FA Cup third round to continue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winning start in charge of the club.
United made the breakthrough after the intervention of VAR, when it was decided Omar Richards had tripped Juan Mata in the box, with the Spaniard converting the resulting spot-kick midway through the first half.
Romelu Lukaku then doubled the hosts’ lead in first-half stoppage time – the striker’s 13th goal in his last 14 appearances in the competition – to make it five straight wins for Solskjaer since he became United’s interim boss.
As for the visitors, second bottom of the Sky Bet Championship, Jose Gomes’ side have now gone 11 games without a win.
Despite heading into the clash in rude health after winning four Premier League matches in a row under the Norwegian, United were flat in the first quarter of the contest at Old Trafford, until VAR’s intervention that is.
The home team had the ball in the back of the net thanks to Fred’s neat finish, only for the video ref to check for a possible offside against the Brazilian.
However, while Fred was offside, Mata had been tripped by Omar Richards just prior to that, allowing the playmaker to score from the spot, the first time he had netted in the cup since against Crystal Palace in the 2016 final.
The tie was all but over when with just seconds to go until the break, John Swift tried to catch Lukaku offside, with disastrous consequences as striker ran clean through on goal.
Lukaku then rounded the advancing Anssi Jaakkola, before rolling home his 13th goal in the last 14 appearances in the FA Cup.
United rotated their squad, with Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku Sergio Romero, Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Diogo Dalot all recalled.
Meanwhile for the Royals, Tyler Blackett and Leandro Bacuna were suspended and veteran defender John O’Shea had to settle for a place on the bench on his return to Old Trafford.
Despite enjoying an eyebrow-raising 60 per cent of possession, though, Reading lacked the firepower to really trouble Sergio Romero in United’s goal and the visitors will now return to the Madejski to continue their fight against relegation. – Sky Sports.