Manchester United ease into round four with comfortable win at Wigan

09/01/2024

Manchester United ease into round four with comfortable win at Wigan

Goals from Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes saw Manchester United ease into the fourth round of the FA Cup and avoid any unwanted drama in a 2-0 win over League One Wigan.

As they should have, United dominated a side 53 places below them, and the only complaint would be that they did not convert more of their 33 attempts on goal.

As it was, Dalot’s 22nd-minute curler and a second-half penalty from Fernandes set up a tie away to either League Two Newport or non-League Eastleigh.

With Sir Dave Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc watching on as Sir Jim Ratcliffe awaits ratification of his 25 per cent stake in United, a straightforward win was just what Erik ten Hag needed after a December in which United lost six of nine games to keep the pressure on the Dutchman.

Recognising the need for a result, the United boss went strong despite a list of absentees into double figures. Christian Eriksen and Antony were the latest to be ruled out, but with Rasmus Hojlund back from illness and Scott McTominay stepping in, United meant business.

With 22,870 on hand, the DW Stadium was sold out for the first time since 2013 and the Latics’ last season in the Premier League, also the campaign in which they upset Manchester City at Wembley to lift the FA Cup.

The home fans should have had a shock goal to celebrate inside three minutes. Sean Clare picked off a loose pass from Kobbie Mainoo and fed Martial Godo. The on-loan Fulham forward hit a quick low cross to Thelo Aasgaard but his shot was well saved by Andre Onana.

Wigan would not have a better chance all night as United responded decisively. Mainoo recovered from his early error to thrive in midfield as United kept Wigan pegged back and peppered Sam Tickle’s goal with shots.

The 21-year-old goalkeeper did superbly well to keep out a Marcus Rashford shot low to his right but could only watch when McTominay ran on to Fernandes’ cross but sent his shot wide of the far post.

A goal was coming. Wigan captain Charlie Hughes got a vital touch to keep Alejandro Garnacho’s cross away from Hojlund but Rashford picked up the pieces and, after finding his own way to goal blocked, laid the ball back for Dalot to curl a shot inside the post.

It was almost 2-0 less than two minutes later. Garnacho’s cross from the right found Rashford, whose drilled shot was saved by Tickle only for the goalkeeper to fumble the ball and push it onto his own post before gathering at the second attempt.

Hojlund headed against the crossbar from a Garnacho cross and then went close when Tickle could only parry a Rashford shot into his path.

And the Wigan crossbar rattled again five minutes before the break when Garnacho cut in from the right and unleashed a powerful left-footed shot which had Tickle beaten.

Wigan switched to a back five to start the second half and did a better job of containing United. Tickle was not forced into meaningful action until just after the hour, when he pushed Mainoo’s shot from the edge of the area away from danger.

When a Garnacho cross was cut out by Hughes it fell kindly for McTominay but he fired over.

Wigan were just beginning to find some encouragement going forward when Liam Shaw caught the toe of Fernandes, who flung himself to the ground to persuade referee Anthony Taylor to point to the spot, from where the United captain sent Tickle the wrong way to double the lead in the 74th minute.

Tickle kept out further shots from Fernandes and Rashford, but United had already done enough.

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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