Manchester United’s good run of form materialised into another victory as they beat Reading 4-0 in the third round of the FA Cup.
Jose Mourinho’s side marshaled themselves to yet another victory as they won their third round fixture against Championship outfit Reading in the FA Cup. The Red Devils proved to be no match for the Royals as they decimated them to a 4-0 drubbing at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney bagged a record-equaling goal while Anthony Martial continued to prove why he was a key figure for the team with a well struck finish from close range. Englishman Marcus Rashford bagged a second half brace and took the game beyond the reach of the visitors.
Here are The Hard Tackle’s talking points from the game.
Wayne Rooney equals Sir Bobby Charlton’s tally for Manchester United
The 2016/17 campaign has not been the best of Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney’s career, but on Saturday the 31-year-old etched his name into history books as he equaled Red Devils legend Sir Bobby Charton’s tally of 249 goals for the club.
After being relegated to life on the bench due to dismal performances during the initial stages of the season, Rooney has shown incredible grit and determination to fight his way back into the team.
On Saturday, against a tame Reading outfit, Rooney finally managed to achieve the feat he had been aiming for since the last few seasons. A regular supplier of goals for the club in the past, the 31-year-old proved that he still had the proficiency to slot the ball into the back of the net.
Mourinho will be hoping that Rooney builds on this performance and continues to score on a regular basis for the Red Devils.
Reading need to improve if they are to challenge for Premier League qualification
The Royals sit third on the Championship table and are eyeing a return to England’s top flight after a three-season absence. However, their performances against one of the in-form Premier League sides showcased their need for improvement if they are to consolidate their place in the top tier.
Reading looked all over the place against Manchester United on Saturday and never did they appear to be in control of proceedings. They ended up second best against the hosts in all aspects of the game.
Their centre-backs Liam Moore and Joey van der Berg seemed to be on entirely different pages and it ended up costing Reading the game. Stam has eyed defensive reinforcements in the January window and will need to act soon.
Marcus Rashford as sharp as a tack in the final third
Given Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s age and the number of matches he’s played this season, resting the Swede was definitely on the cards for Mourinho. The Portuguese manager decided to start with Marcus Rashford to lead the line, and it paid huge dividends.
With 15 minutes left to play, United midfielder Michael Carrick found Rashford with an exquisite lobbed pass from the half-way line which the Reading centre-backs failed to deal with. The young English striker controlled the ball well before coolly slotting home a one-on-one effort to triple his side’s lead.
A few minutes later, the 19-year-old scored another goal. Reading goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi made a mess of the pass played by his defender which saw Rashford win the ball back and strike it into an empty net to give his side a resounding 4-0 lead.
Marcos Rojo’s injury adds to Mourinho’s defensive woes
Defender Marcos Rojo proved to be an early casualty for the home side as just 29 minutes into the game, the Argentinian picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Phil Jones. This was a huge blow to Mourinho who only just lost Eric Bailly to the African Cup of Nations.
The club have been linked with centre-backs Victor Lindelof and Jose Fonte of late, but Mourinho has stated that he is happy with the current crop of defenders at his disposal. The former looked very close to signing for United, while the latter has handed in a transfer request at Southampton and could be eyeing a move to Old Trafford.
However, with Rojo set to spend an extended amount of time on the sidelines, Mourinho will have to give in and purchase a quality centre-back in the January window. The Red Devils have been on quite a run lately and the manager will look to do all he can to make sure that it does not stop anytime soon.
Not the Old Trafford return Japp Stam had hoped for
Reading manager Jaap Stam made over 100 appearances for Manchester United during his playing career that spelled over 15 years. The ex-Red Devils defender was given a warm reception, but watched his side lose the plot and suffer an embarrassment at the hands of his former team.
The Royals were by far the second best team on the day. They struggled to work the ball into the box and make the most of the limited opportunities they were handed. According to the BBC, they achieved just one shot on target throughout the course of the match, and their other six attempts did not cause Sergio Romero too much of a hindrance.
It was a disappointing performance from a side that aims to return to the Premier League next season and Stam will look to sort out things before he finds his side slip out of the promotion picture.