Manchester United have qualified for the fourth round of the FA Cup without many problems. When they visited Wigan Athletic, which is two divisions lower and plays a modest role in League One, last season’s losing finalist was 2-0 too strong.
For manager Erik ten Hag’s team, the famous cup tournament seems to be the only way to achieve success. In the competition, the top four – and therefore a Champions League ticket – is virtually out of sight for the number eight of the Premier League, while prolongation of the League Cup is no longer an option after the early elimination. The Champions League also ended in a downer with fourth place in the group.
Ten Hag will therefore be shocked by the unfocused start of his men, with the exception of Andre Onana. The Cameroonian goalkeeper, who rushed to the African Cup of Nations after Saturday’s top match against Tottenham Hotspur, avoided falling behind quickly by throwing himself in front of Thelo Aasgaard’s close-range effort.
But then the guests took matters into their own hands. That led to chances for Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay and also to the 0-1 halfway through the first half. Rashford laid back to Diogo Dalot, who found the far corner with a controlled shot.
Rasmus Hojlund in particular missed some great opportunities to increase the lead, while Alejandro Garnacho saw a fantastic shot hit the crossbar. And so the damage for Wigan, which had to deal with no fewer than seventeen shots from United, was limited to one goal.
After halftime it took fifteen minutes before the 0-2 beckoned, but goalkeeper Sam Tickle stretched to the corner in time for Kobbie Mainoo’s slider. The second goal came when Bruno Fernandes left his foot and Liam Shaw tapped it. Referee Anthony Taylor decided the penalty somewhat easily. Fernandes himself carried out the sentence.
That settled the matter, because Wigan tried to break away every now and then, but lacked the finesse to really make it difficult for the guests.
In the next round, Manchester United will face the winner of the match between Newport County and Eastleigh, two smaller clubs in English football. A much easier job than what awaits Tottenham Hotspur and cup holder Manchester City; they drew each other lots.
The post first appeared on nos.nl