Harry Maguire made the difference while Bruno Fernandes struggled as Manchester United beat Norwich City 2-1 to reach the FA Cup semi-finals
It was a scratchy performance by Manchester United, who had almost all of their regulars starting on the bench against Norwich City. While the Red Devils dominated possession all throughout, the big chances came few and far between, with Tim Krul not being tested in the first half.
The visitors finally broke the deadlock just six minutes after the break, as Harry Maguire started the move before Odion Ighalo dinked the ball past the Norwich goalkeeper. However, with 15 minutes left in regulation time, Manchester United were handed a setback as Todd Cantwell scored from range. United, though, were soon to be given a huge advantage.
Timm Klose was sent off in the 88th minute after bringing Ighalo down, as the game went into extra time. The Red Devils finally made their numerical advantage count in the penultimate minute of extra time, as Maguire scored the winner from close range to send his side through to the FA Cup semi-finals. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
Sergio Romero: 6/10
It was a game wherein Romero had very little to do, with Norwich having just one shot on target. Unfortunately for him, it was the very shot Todd Cantwell scored from; the first goal he has let in in the FA Cup this season.
In fairness to the Argentine, he only had the ball in sight when it was too late. Reliable on the ball, he also alleviated pressure with a couple of completed long passes. A punch soon after the goal was crucial as well, with a Norwich player unmarked behind him.
Diogo Dalot: 5/10
Making a rare appearance in the starting lineup, Dalot looked rusty and was targeted a great deal by the Norwich attack. With the ball at his feet, though, the Portuguese full-back was incredibly precise, misplacing just one pass all game. His crosses, however, carried no threat and never really allowed Manchester United to get on top of their hosts. Taken off for Brandon Williams
Eric Bailly: 6/10
Back into the side in place of Victor Lindelof, Bailly had a hit-and-miss game. The Ivorian did make 3 clearances but he also lost possession 8 times, an alarming number for a centre-back. Gave away a chance in the first half, although it did not cost him. However, Cantwell did make him pay when he failed to clear the ball in the lead-up to the Norwich goal. Perhaps, it was just rust.
Harry Maguire: 9/10
A colossal performance by Maguire, who cleaned up after the defenders around him, made a vital block on Lukas Rupp when the deadlock was still not broken, cleared the ball 5 times in addition to 2 interceptions and won each of his 7 aerial duels.
Harry Maguire’s game by numbers vs. Norwich City:
100% aerial duels won
85% pass accuracy
8 acc. long passes
Stepped up to score the winner. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/ItD0gmDe4q
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 27, 2020
On the opposite end, the Manchester United skipper came close with a headed effort which Tim Krul scooped out from the goalline in the nick of time. However, Maguire was not to be denied when he netted from close range with very little time left in the game. A true captain’s performance and one of his best yet for Manchester United. Man of the match by a fair margin.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
A decent display by Shaw, who did have his fair share of shortcomings on the day but also made important contributions along the way. Mainly camped in the Norwich half, Shaw saw a lot of the ball, but completed just 1 of his 5 attempted crosses. Having said that, that solitary completed cross set up Odion Ighalo’s goal and he also made 3 key passes.
Defensively, he had a couple of crucial moments, first stopping Teemu Pukki with a recovering run before making a block soon after Maguire’s effort to deny Rupp. A few heavy touches did let him down, though, and there is still work to be done in the final third.
Scott McTominay: 6/10
Like many around him, McTominay blew hot and cold over the course of the game. While he cannot be faulted for a lack of effort and while he was energetic throughout his stay on the pitch, the Scot did not have that cutting edge to make the difference when he looked to move Manchester United forward.
McTominay, though, was more impactful than a lacklustre Bruno Fernandes whenever he took up positions in the final third and a cheeky flick nearly set Ighalo up. Alongside Fred, he should have done better to close down Cantwell for the only Norwich goal.
Like McTominay, Fred was a lively figure in the middle of the park and did well to curtail the influence of Rupp. Unlike McTominay, though, Fred looked much more composed, completing 7 of the 8 long balls he attempted while also creating a chance for Bruno Fernandes. Solid defensive numbers as well – 1 block, 1 interception, 2 tackles. But, should have closed Cantwell down better.
Juan Mata: 4/10
Handed a rare start, Mata took to the field for the first time since footballing action resumed in England. The lack of minutes under his belt could not have been more apparent, as the Spaniard created very little and chose the safer option in squaring the ball more often than not.
Also slowed down the tempo of the game, which goes against Solskjaer’s system of quick turnovers. It’s now back to the bench for Mata, who is unlikely to be seen a great deal in the remainder of the campaign for Manchester United.
Bruno Fernandes: 5/10
In what was easily his worst performance for Manchester United till date, Fernandes was incredibly wasteful with the ball at his feet. His game does entail a lot of high risk to garner high rewards, but losing the ball 39 times in a game is inexcusable. He also completed only 10 of the 25 long balls and crosses he attempted.
Despite an underwhelming display, it is important to note that Fernandes completed more passes in the final third (72), took the more shots (7), created more chances (5) and completed more take-ons (3) than any other player. If that is Fernandes when he struggles then Manchester United and Solskjaer are in for a treat when he is on the same wavelength as his teammates.
Jesse Lingard: 5/10
Lingard was typically industrious when the game began and aimed the first two shots for his side as it looked like the bundle of energy was back. However, the Englishman quickly faded out of the game, probably with the effects of his recent illness showing through. Needs to do more to ensure a turnaround.
Odion Ighalo: 7/10
What is with Ighalo and scoring whenever he starts? Whatever it is, it is good for Manchester United, who have seen the Nigerian score five goals in the four starts he has made. Took his goal really well, showing tremendous awareness to lob the ball into the Norwich goal. A poor touch was the difference between a brace and his output on the day. Otherwise, saw very little of the ball.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
With every passing game, Rashford’s form is becoming increasingly alarming. On Saturday, despite being on the bench for over an hour and being fresher than everyone else on the pitch, he carried very little threat, looking a bit hesitant at times with the ball at his feet.
Apart from testing the Norwich goalkeeper with a smashing effort and playing in a decent ball for Anthony Martial, he did little of note. It seems like he is well away from his best and for Manchester United’s sake, the Englishman needs to shake off the rust quickly.
Mason Greenwood: 6.5/10
On for Lingard, Greenwood was purposeful as ever in his display as he did not shy away from taking on the Norwich defenders. Nearly scored the winner with a fantastic volley, which drew a top class save from Krul. Misplaced just 2 passes and played in as many key passes. With him being this confident, Solskjaer needs to start the prodigious youngster as much as he can in the run-in.
Brandon Williams: 6/10
Deployed at right-back, Williams looked at home in the position, completing 4 of the 5 tackles he attempted while having an excellent passing rate of 91 percent (21/23). Won 7 duels as well and a first start in the post-lockdown period does not seem to be far away.
Paul Pogba: 7.5/10
Paul Pogba’s game by numbers vs. Norwich City (42 minutes):
36 final third passes
4 chances created
3 shots (2 on target)
3 tackles won
Involved in the winner too. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/1vwEvlOGMy
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 27, 2020
As was the case against Tottenham last week, Pogba changed the game with his substitution, transforming the tempo and bringing in more energy. Had some good link-up play with Fernandes and created 4 chances in just 42 minutes on the pitch (only Fernandes had more).
Had a shot saved from close range as well before playing a big role in Maguire’s goal late on. There is no denying the fact that Manchester United are far better with him on the pitch and that he will be a pivotal figure for Solskjaer in the last couple of months this season.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
Like Pogba, Matic made a great deal of impact, albeit in the deeper areas of the pitch. The Serb completely shut off Norwich’s attack while also being more incisive with his passes – he completed a staggering 46 passes in just 42 minutes and played in 3 key passes too. There is no replacing Matic at Manchester United and it is important they scour a long-term successor for him soon enough.
Anthony Martial: N/A
Fresh from his match-winning hat-trick against Sheffield United, Martial was thrown into the game with 15 minutes left in extra time as Solskjaer searched for the winner. Martial looked intent on making the difference but a good first touch eluded him at times, specially when he was played in by Rashford. Had a couple of shots blocked, though.