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FA Cup

Man Utd 2-0 Reading: Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku on target




FT: Manchester United complete a fifth-successive victory under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Reading were valiant in defeat – but that is zero wins in 11 for them and a serious Championship relegation scrap on their hands.

92: Just 60 seconds left for United to put the cherry on the cake… save! Pereira, who’s been pretty quiet today, launches one from distance that Jaakkola does well to tip round the post.

90: Slip! Marcus Rashford nips between the two Reading centre-backs but instead of firing – he runs straight out of play and falls on his backside. The youngster laughs in despair – it was pretty funny.

Three minutes of added time.

88: Just the sniff of a third for Manchester United as Dalot launches one forward to Romelu Lukaku, but Jaakkola raced off his line to clear. Not that I really expected Rom to catch it.

85: Anything to report? Nothing. This is a ghastly end to an FA Cup fixture.

Manchester United vs Reading: FA Cup third-round score, goals and updates

83: Juan Mata has been directly involved in 21 goals in 24 starts in the FA Cup (10 goals, 11 assists). Specialist.
80: Chong is letting the nerves get to him today. He’s taking tons of touches and just sprayed a simple 20-yard pass straight into the stands.

78: Tahith Chong is booked for a late lunge on Richards. Didn’t really look to nasty and it was not well received at Old Trafford. Shocker, eh?

75: This is getting seriously dull folks. I won’t be offended if you’d like to head of and complete some tasks. Go on, I dare you…

73: VAR check! Penalty appeals from the Reading players are turned away after the ball appeared to strike McTominay’s arm. Looking at the replay and the ball clearly hits his chest.

72: Liam Moore executes a perfectly-timed challenge to stop Chong from squaring the ball to the unmarked Marcus Rashford. Reading break with Barrow serving the ball up to Aluko, who cannons his shot into the ground.

69: Close! Ashley Young embarks on a lung-busting run down the left touchline and weaves his way across the byline to tee up Fellaini… who scuffs it straight to Jaakkola
66: Manchester United have shown absolutely nothing since the resumption. The highlight has to be Alexis Sanchez heading off and sitting himself down in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s seat on the bench.

The manager gives him a polite pat on the shoulder and the Chilean hops up and moves. Delightful stuff…

63: Manchester United are forced into a quick-fire second change as Alexis Sanchez heading off for Marcus Rashford.

60: Flurry of changes now with McCleary giving way to Barrow. Young Dutch prodigy Tahith Chong also enters the fray. He replaces Juan Mata. He’s pretty unmistakable this fella. More hair then Fellaini and Luiz put together! Speaking of Fellaini he’s on for Fred.

Manchester United vs Reading: FA Cup third-round score, goals and updates

57: Reading fans are certainly making the most of their visit to Old Trafford. They’ve haven’t stopped singing since they piled in at midday. Will they be rewarded with a goal? If they continue to play like this I don’t see why not.

54: Should be 2-1. The ball breaks kindly for Callum Harriott just outside the Manchester United penalty area. He’s only got Sergio Romero to beat but lashes it too close to the stopper, who blocks with his legs.
51: Another bright start from the visitors. They really have done themselves justice today and will need to continue this in the Championship to get out of their perilous situation… Kelly smashes one into the stands.

48: Darmian with an early foul to get things up and running. It gives Reading a free-kick from around 25-yards out… Swift unleashes an awkward, dipping strike that Romero gathers.

Quite similar to the one Dubravka spilled against United earlier in the week.


45: And we’re back underway folks. Aluko replaces the injured Ilori.

HT: And that’s the break. Reading put in a really good shift but a VAR decision and a moment of real quality from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have taken the game away from them. You fear for the Championship strugglers in the second-half – I suspect the floodgates will open.MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 READING | LUKAKU

48: Bit harsh on Reading but that’s the difference in quality. Mistakes at this level will be punished.

Reading over-commit to a corner in stoppage-time and that gives United numbers on the break. Alexis Sanchez plays a wonderful pass through to Romelu Lukaku, who rounds the goalkeeper and converts.

45: Five minutes of added time… I think you know why.
44: FA Cup latest scores; Bournemouth 0-2 Brighton, Burnley 0-0 Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Luton, Shrewsbury 0-0 Stoke, West Brom 1-0 Wigan, West Ham 1-0 Birmingham.

41: Quite evident that Paul Pogba isn’t playing today. He really does make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side run smoothly and can see passes others can’t.

38: Close! Alexis Sanchez canters through after Rinomhota gifts the ball away, but somehow recovers to poke the ball away from the Chilean.

35: Couple of good chances for Reading as Manchester United revert to their sluggish ways. First Harriott flashes a fierce drive over the crossbar. He’s then found of the edge of the penalty area but shows too much to Phil Jones.
33: Not sure Tiago Ilori should really be on the pitch still. He’s gingerly hobbling around the halfway line. Clearly still injured from that earlier collision with Romelu Lukaku.

Booked! Yiadom has been eager all afternoon and goes in the book.

30: From the ridiculous to the ridiculously ridiculous. Romelu Lukaku is threaded through with only Jaakkola to beat – but he delays and allows Moore to recover. He does manage to pull the tigger but It’s easily saved.

Loader, or Top Loader as his friends call him, is also sent clean through on goal. He smartly rounds Sergio Romero but runs wide and the goalkeeper recovers.

27: Ominous signs for Reading now as Manchester United turn on the style.

Here’s what Phil Neville thought about the offside/VAR/Penalty decision.

“I think there was a foul on Juan Mata before Fred was caught offside there. The question is whether Mata had lost control of the ball before he was fouled. The use of VAR was questionable there – it has got to be quicker. But in defence of Jon Moss – the fourth official – there were a lot of mitigating factors there.”
24: Penalty appeal! United fans, much like all World Cup fans, have figured out that appealing for everything near the penalty area could be worthwhile with VAR in use.

Alexis Sanchez blasts the ball into the arm of Yiadom from point-blank range. Nothing given because of the distance AND the fact it happened outside the box.


22: Juan Mata was forced to wait over two minutes to take the spot-kick. It didn’t make any difference – he’s slotted past reading goalkeeper Jaakkola with a minimum of fuss.

Just a little taste of what we can expect from VAR in the Premier League next season.


20: Finally some drama! Fred has the ball in the back of the net after a one-two with Juan Mata. Tidy finish but the linesman’s flag was raised.

The referee has gone over to his assistant to discuss the situation. The decision is made more awkward by the fact Mata was fouled when playing his initial pass.

VAR is checked by Stuart Atwell… penalty to Manchester United for the foul on Mata!
18: It’s not just here that things are slow. Only West Ham have scored in the other six FA Cup third-round fixtures. Marko Arnautovic got the goal against Birmingham.

17: Woooooooosh! Yiadom should have done better after McCleary’s squared pass runs through the penalty area and finds the full-back unmarked. He blasts it miles into the stands.

15: More like it from the hosts with Alexis Sanchez lining up a 20-yarder that flies narrowly over the crossbar. Clear to see that United can turn it on whenever they like.

14: Fairly disappointing from Manchester United. They’ve been sluggish and lacklustre.

13: Ouch! Lukaku arrives late on Ilori and leaves the former Liverpool player floored. He looked to have jarred his leg as he fell. Could this see John O’Shea make an early arrival?!
10: McTominay bravely sticks his head into a cluster of Reading bodies to win a flick-on from Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick. He gets treatment for a head injury, but looks fine to continue.

8: Jose Manuel Gomes will be delighted with his sides start. They’ve looked sharp. Obviously I know very little about the Portuguese tactician other than what Wikipedia tells me. He’s managed at: Videoton, Al-Taawoun, Al-Ahli and of course the glory years with Baniyas…

5: Reading right-back Yiadom ploughs through the back of Alexis Sanchez. Y’know, just to let the Chilean know what he’s up against… Nothing from Manchester United in an attacking sense in these opening stages.

3: What an outstanding opening 120 seconds for Reading, who have somehow managed 100 percent possession! The Championship strugglers don’t seem nervous – then again they haven’t had to defend yet.


1: And we’re underway! Now the best omen I can see for Reading is that referee Stuart Atwell also officiated United’s defeat to Derby in the Carabao Cup

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FA Cup

FA Cup semi-final draw: All you need to know




Manchester City will be the only big club in the pot for the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s men fought back from two goals down to beat Swansea City 3-2 on Saturday.

However, their city rivals, Manchester United were shocked 2-1 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Indeed, the semi-final draw will have a far less familiar feel to it from recent seasons, with at least one from Wolves, Brighton, Millwall and Watford guaranteed a place in the Wembley final in May.

The draw for the last four will take place immediately following Brighton’s quarter-final tie against Millwall.

It will be aired live and exclusively on BBC 1.

The games will take place over the weekend of April 6.

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Sarri mocks Arsenal’s season, defends his Chelsea record




Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri, has taken a swipe at Arsenal while defending his record in charge of the Blues, and believes he is being unfairly criticised compared to Unai Emery.

Sarri watched on as Chelsea beat Malmo 3-0 in the Europa League last 32 to progress to the next round.

His team have however struggled on the domestic front, knocked out of the FA Cup and hammered 6-0 at the Etihad.

Sarri faces mounting pressure at Stamford Bridge amid speculation he could be sacked, but he is bewildered by why he faces so much more scrutiny than his Arsenal counterpart.

Asked by Sky Sport Italia if he was one defeat away from sack, Sarri responded: “I am not interested, to be honest.

“I have to think of my work as a big picture issue, otherwise I’d do my work badly. So I continue along my path and nothing has changed, as far as I am concerned.

“I keep hearing people praise Arsenal’s season, but they are not in the Cup Final, they have fewer points than us in the Premier League and reached the last 16 of the Europa League just like us.

“I don’t understand why people act as if our season is so negative and Arsenal’s is impressive.

“It’s true there have been many peaks and troughs, including some very deep troughs, but considering it’s my first season in a new league and environment, I think that’s acceptable.

“I did take over a team that finished fifth with 70 points.”

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FA Cup

Liverpool vs Bayern Munich: Three key battles you must focus




Liverpool vs Bayern Munich will see two European heavyweights lock horns and the following are the battles you should focus on.

Mohamed Salah vs David Alaba

This could be an area where the game is won or lost for Bayern Munich.

We’ve seen many defenders fall victim to the Egyptian’s lightning pace and tricky dribbling in recent years and Alaba will have to be at the top of his game to keep Salah quiet.

Liverpool Bayern

The Austrian was branded as the best left-back in world football under Pep Guardiola but he appears to have lost some of his credibility in recent years.

He has to resist the temptation of getting forward as much as possible, because Salah will be waiting to pounce on any space that could see him bare down on goal.

If Alaba does go forward, the winger will have to do his defensive duties and help out his right-back whenever needed.

Joel Matip vs Robert Lewandowski

Matip will have to step up in the absence of the suspended Virgil van Dijk.

And what better way to test himself against one of the best strikers in world football, Robert Lewandowski.

Matip Lewandowski

In November, the Polish international became the seventh player to hit 50 Champions League goals.

Lewandowski is comfortable playing with his back to goal meaning Matip may need to stand his ground
The defender is 10cm taller than his opponent meaning he should have the beating of him in the air.

The duo have already faced off before in the Bundesliga and with Matip not being the most orthodox in possession, he can’t afford to play around with the ball at the back.

Roberto Firmino vs Mats Hummels

Marking Firmino can prove a real nuisance.

Not only does he pose an obvious threat in front of goal but his selfless movement can pull defences out of joint for Salah and Sadio Mane to profit.

Hummels will have to be wary of that, making sure his partner Niklas Sule is on the cover.

Firmino Hummels

The German is a top defender with plenty of experience and he has previously come up against Firmino in his Borussia Dortmund days in the 2015/16 Europa League and against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

Admittedly, the Brazilian has matured a lot since then, taking his game to the next level and his class could be essential in helping Liverpool decide this tie.

Firmino was exceptional during last year’s road to the final in Kiev and seems to thrive under the lights on European nights.

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