Month: January 2017

Manchester United 4 Wigan Athletic 0

29/01/2017 17:56, Report by Ryan Grant

Emirates FA Cup fourth round | Old Trafford | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: Fellaini 44, Smalling 57, Mkhitaryan 74, Schweinsteiger 81

A much-changed Manchester United progressed to the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic on Sunday afternoon.

The result ensured it would be an unhappy return to Old Trafford for former Reserves coach Warren Joyce, as Marouane Fellaini headed United in front, before second-half goals from Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger put the Latics to the sword, and the Reds into the hat for Monday’s draw.

Ahead of the match, Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side that faced Hull in Thursday evening’s EFL Cup semi-final second leg, with attacking quartet Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, and Wayne Rooney among those returning to the starting line-up.

Backed by a vocal travelling support, Wigan started the game brightly and registered the game’s first attempt on goal through Callum Connolly, whose powerful drive was punched away well by Sergio Romero.

By contrast, United were struggling to get into any kind of rhythm during a difficult opening 20 minutes, though the returning Luke Shaw showed a glimpse of his ability with a positive run down the left. In a half of few goalscoring chances, the Reds’ first opportunity came on 24 minutes, as Shaw’s chipped pass was headed out as far as Mata, whose effort sailed comfortably over the crossbar.

Mourinho’s men then had an excellent chance to break the deadlock on the half-hour mark, as Martial sprinted forward and found the overlapping Tim Fosu-Mensah, but Mkhitaryan could only divert the defender’s cross wide at the far post.

The next opportunity, however, did produce a goal. With seconds remaining in the first half, patient build-up play involving Rooney and Mkhitaryan eventually saw Schweinsteiger pick up possession on the right-hand side. The midfielder whipped in an inviting delivery and there was no doubt about the outcome, as Fellaini headed home to give United a timely lead.

HALF-TIME STATS

Possession: United 71% Wigan 29%
Shots: United 3 Wigan 3
Shots on target: United 1 Wigan 2
Corners: United 2 Wigan 0

Buoyed by the Belgian’s opener, the Reds picked up where they had left off – on the front foot. Four minutes into the second half, Rooney set Fosu-Mensah through on goal, but the youngster dragged his effort wide of the post after driving into the area. At the other end, the visitors could and perhaps should have levelled through midfielder David Perkins after Romero had parried a cross to the edge of the box, but the United keeper recovered to save with his legs.

It was a missed chance that the Championship side would come to regret as, just minutes later, United added a second through Smalling. This time, Martial carved out half a yard of space on the left, and delivered a well-flighted ball to the far post, which the defender met well to head home.

Then followed a special moment for Axel Tuanzebe with 23 minutes remaining. Recently called up to the first-team squad after impressive performances for the Reserves, the young centre-back hugged Mourinho on the touchline, shook hands with Joyce and replaced Fosu-Mensah to make his first senior appearance for the club.

Wigan were determined to remind United of their attacking intent, as Connolly forced Romero into another save, but again the Reds broke away to make the Latics pay. A swift move saw Martial race into the box, and the Frenchman crossed for Mkhitaryan to tap in a third and put the result beyond any doubt.

Schweinsteiger’s goal nine minutes from time was the icing on the cake, as the German – making his first start in over a year – acrobatically converted subsititute Ander Herrera’s knock-down from a corner. Chants of “Wembley” followed, as United’s FA Cup defence continued with a convincing win.

FULL-TIME STATS

Possession: United 71% Wigan 29%
Shots: United 11 Wigan 7
Shots on target: United 4 Wigan 5
Corners: United 5 Wigan 2

THE TEAMS

United: Romero (J Pereira 80), Fosu-Mensah (Tuanzebe 67), Smalling, Rojo, Shaw, Fellaini (Herrera 70), Schweinsteiger, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Martial, Rooney.

Subs not used: Blind, Young, Ibrahimovic, Rashford.

Booked: None

Wigan: Haugaard, Connolly, Buxton, Burn, Warnock, MacDonald (Browne 76), Power, Morsy, Perkins (Wildschut 59), Jacobs, Grigg (Tunnicliffe 70).

Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, James, Kellett, Morgan.

Booked: Burn

Manchester United 1 Hull City 2

26/01/2017 21:47, Report by Mark Froggatt

EFL Cup semi-final | KCOM Stadium | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: Huddlestone 36, Niasse 85; Pogba 66

Manchester United are heading to Wembley Stadium for the EFL Cup final, after securing a 3-2 aggregate victory over spirited semi-finalists Hull City on Jose Mourinho’s 54th birthday.

The Reds began the match with a 2-0 first-leg lead and that advantage was halved when Tom Huddlestone scored a first-half penalty. Paul Pogba then restored parity on the night before Oumar Niasse’s late goal earned the Tigers a 2-1 second-leg success, but it was not enough to change the outcome of the tie.

Southampton will now provide United’s opposition in the final that is due to be held on 26 February, following Saints’ impressive and deserved last-four victory over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Prior to Thursday night’s kick-off in east Yorkshire, Hull’s players wore t-shirts that paid tribute to team-mate Ryan Mason as he recovers from a serious head injury suffered when playing against Chelsea at the weekend. Mourinho also wished the player well on behalf of United in his pre-match interviews.

Despite there being a muted atmosphere at the start of the match, with several thousand empty seats in the KCOM Stadium’s upper tier, Hull started with fire in their belly and registered two shots at United’s goal early on through Harry Maguire and Sam Clucas. Marcos Rojo, playing at left-back, then showed his attacking endeavour by pushing forward to hit a deflected effort wide of the post.

A minute’s applause was held in the 26th minute in a second tribute to Mason, yet the clapping came to an abrupt end and was transformed into cries of frustration when the Tigers almost broke the deadlock as Oumar Niasse’s powerful shot was strongly palmed away by David De Gea. The Hull fans were soon cheering, however, when Huddlestone dispatched a 36th-minute penalty into the bottom left corner, after referee Jon Moss harshly penalised Rojo for an apparent shove on Maguire.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic almost equalised immediately afterwards when the Swede dribbled from just inside the halfway line and shot from the edge of area, forcing opposition goalkeeper David Marshall to make an excellent save in the final piece of notable action before the half-time break.

STATS AT HALF-TIME
Possession: Hull 55% United 45%
Shots: Hull 8 United 2
Shots on target: Hull 4 United 1
Corners: Hull 3 United 3

United could and perhaps should have been awarded two penalties at the start of the second half, firstly after Hull captain Michael Dawson appeared to trip Pogba inside the area. Chris Smalling was also bundled to the ground by Huddlestone moments later but Moss waved play on for the second time, to the disbelief of the 4,179 Reds supporters in a packed away end at the KCOM Stadium.

Mourinho’s men deservedly drew level on the night with 66 minutes on the clock when Pogba stabbed home from close range, notching his seventh goal of the season while inspiring booming chants of “We’re the famous Man United and we’re going to Wembley” from the fans.

Rojo went close to scoring for a second time when his header clipped the top of the bar, before Hull rattled the woodwork themselves through the combative Niasse. The Tigers man unfortunately got his goal soon after, meeting a right-wing cross to finish past De Gea from close range on 85 minutes.

Although the hosts showed admirable fight in the closing stages, United claimed a 3-2 aggregate victory that means the Reds now have a chance to lift a second trophy of the season next month following the FA Community Shield success back in August. Bring on Wembley!

STATS AT FULL-TIME
Possession: Hull 54% United 46%
Shots: Hull 14 United 7
Shots on target: Hull 5 United 2
Corners: Hull 6 United 10

THE TEAMS

Hull: Marshall, Meyler, Dawson, Maguire, Huddlestone, Tymon, Clucas, Maloney (Evandro 64), Bowen (Markovic 59), Diomande (Hernandez 70), Niasse.
Subs: Kuciak, Robertson, Weir, Elabdellaoui.

United: De Gea, Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Carrick, Herrera, Lingard (Rooney 79), Pogba, Rashford (Fellaini 90), Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Mata, Mkhitaryan.
Booked: Jones, Rojo.

Manchester United 1 Stoke City 1

21/01/2017 16:50, Report by Adam Higgins

Premier League | 21 January 2017 | bet365 Stadium | Attendance: 27,423 | Scorers: Mata 19 og, Rooney 90+4

Wayne Rooney made history by becoming Manchester United’s all-time leading scorer with a stunning free-kick in stoppage time to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw against Stoke City.   

The captain curled home a spectacular effort in the 94th-minute to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s longstanding record and net his 250th goal for the club.

It looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for United after an Erik Pieters cross was deflected past David De Gea off the unfortunate Juan Mata to leave Stoke on the brink of three points. But Rooney had other ideas and rescued Jose Mourinho’s men, who extend their unbeaten record in all competitions to 17 games.

Mourinho made four changes from last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool with Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata restored in place of Matteo Darmian, the ill Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial.

Boosted by Liverpool’s surprise defeat by Swansea in the lunchtime kick-off, the Reds settled well into the game in the early exchanges and almost benefitted when Lee Grant dropped Ander Herrera’s free-kick after seven minutes, but the Stoke defence cleared the danger before Zlatan Ibrahimovic could pounce.

It was a largely scrappy opening with both sides feeling each other out but, out of nothing, the hosts took the lead after 19 minutes when a low cross by Pieters deflected off Mata at the near post and went through De Gea.

The Reds responded positively to the setback as Fellaini got in between the Stoke centre-backs to rise highest from Mata’s inviting cross but he could only direct his header straight at Grant.

On the half-hour mark, Mata was presented with a great chance to make amends for the own goal, but he could only turn Ibrahimovic’s square pass over the crossbar.

With the momentum firmly in our favour, United created a number of opportunities as Smalling headed Ander Herrera’s cross over and Mkhitaryan, on his 28th birthday, fired a shot over the top from Valencia’s cutback.

Grant impressed when the sides drew 1-1 at Old Trafford back in October and the Stoke keeper was on top form again, denying Fellaini’s miscued effort before reacting well to parry Pogba’s stinging volley from a Blind corner.

But despite being much the better team in the first half, the Reds were left to reflect on a one-goal deficit heading into the break.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS:
Possession:
Stoke 39% United 61%
Shots:
Stoke 1 United 12
Shots on target:
Stoke 0 United 4
Corners:
Stoke 0 United 3

United continued to look dangerous and cause problems for the Potters defence after the restart but Mourinho didn’t wait long to inject some additional pace in the form of Marcus Rashford, in place of Fellaini.

On the hour-mark, appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg after Mata’s shot from Pogba’s centre was blocked by the hand of Glenn Whelan as he went to ground.

At the other end, Xherdan Shaqiri’s ambitious half-volley from distance was kept out by De Gea in a rare foray forward from the hosts.

The Reds laid siege to the Stoke goal, which lived a charmed life during a one-sided second half, with Jesse Lingard and Wayne Rooney introduced in place of Mata and Mkhitaryan to help pile on the pressure.

As the Potters continued to tire, Rashford curled an effort agonisingly wide of the post after bringing down Rooney’s cross before Pogba linked up well with the captain and cracked a left-footed shot off target.

Lingard struck the top of the crossbar with a thunderous right-footed shot before Rooney popped up with the decisive and historic moment in the dying stages to earn the Reds a share of the spoils.

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS:
Possession:
Stoke 35% United 65%
Shots:
Stoke 6 United 25
Shots on target:
Stoke 1 United 8
Corners:
Stoke 1 United 7

THE TEAMS:

Stoke City: Grant; Johnson, Shawcross (c), Martins Indi, Pieters; Adam (Afellay 63), Whelan; Shaqiri (Ngoy 74), Allen, Arnautovic (Imbula 88); Crouch.

Subs not used: Given; Bardsley, Muniesa, Bojan.

Booked: Arnautovic, Grant, Pieters, Allen

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling (c), Blind; Pogba, Herrera; Mata (Rooney 67), Fellaini (Rashford 56), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 73); Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Schweinsteiger.

Manchester United 1 Liverpool 1

15/01/2017 18:02, Report by Jamie Allen

Premier League | 15 January 2017 | Old Trafford | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: Ibrahimovic 84; Milner 27.

Manchester United are now unbeaten in 16 games following a hard-fought 1-1 draw against rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford as the bragging rights and points were shared.

James Milner gave the visitors the lead from the penalty spot midway through the first half after Paul Pogba had handled in the box, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed in a late leveller to give United a share of the spoils.

Boss Jose Mourinho made four changes to the side that beat Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday with Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick, Anthony Martial and Ibrahimovic all coming back into the starting XI in place of Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford.

As with any United and Liverpool encounter, the atmosphere inside Old Trafford was electric before kick-off and both sets of fans stood together for a period of applause in remembrance of the late Graham Taylor.

This was the 50th Premier League meeting between the two sides and such was the intensity of a game of this magnitude, it was typically a frenetic start with both teams struggling to retain possession of the ball.

United did threaten first on 18 minutes, though, as a sloppy back-pass from Dejan Lovren allowed Ibrahimovic to block Simon Mignolet’s clearance but, luckily for Liverpool, the ball ended up on the roof of the net, rather than the back of it.

A minute later and the Reds should really have been in front. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in Pogba for the first clear chance of the game, but the Frenchman scuffed his effort wide with just Mignolet to beat.

At the other end, Divock Origi scuffed his volleyed effort when free in the box before Phil Jones dallied on the ball and was rescued by his partner Rojo.

Then, on 27 minutes, Pogba handled a Liverpool corner while challenging Lovren in the air and Milner stepped up to fire the visitors into the lead from the penalty spot.

Six minutes later and Ibrahimovic so nearly levelled it up but his vicious free-kick from a yard outside the Liverpool penalty area was beaten away down low by Mignolet.

Five minutes before the break, Mkhitaryan latched onto a cute through-ball from Ander Herrera, but again Mignolet came to the visitors’ rescue when one-on-one, meaning United trailed at the break, despite creating the better opportunities.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 52% Liverpool 48%
Shots at goal: United 4 Liverpool 5
Shots on target: United 2 Liverpool 1
Corners: United 3 Liverpool 5

Mourinho introduced Wayne Rooney at half-time with the Old Trafford faithful hoping he could revive United and break Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record in the process.

But it was Liverpool who came close to doubling their lead as a quick counter attack allowed Origi to fire a wicked shot inches wide of David De Gea’s far post, via a deflection.

It was then United’s turn to counter-attack at pace and, similarly to the first half, the Reds could have levelled the game – a game which was beginning to look like a typical United v Liverpool encounter as the minutes ticked on.

Martial won the ball high up the field and he found Ibrahimovic who slipped in the Armenian, but his attempted cross-hit shot evaded everyone.

At the other end, Roberto Firmino could have put the game to bed after he was played in by substitute Philippe Coutinho, but De Gea saved down low.

United continued to push forward, which meant Liverpool were dangerous on the counter-attack and Georginio Wijnaldum arrived late to head over at the back post following a Firmino cross.

But the Reds’ pressure finally told six minutes from time as first substitute Marroune Fellaini’s header rebounded off the post, before Ibrahimovic headed in Antonio Valencia’s cross via the crossbar to ensure United’s second-half dominance was rewarded.

Both sides pushed to grab all three points late on, but the spoils were shared, meaning United’s long unbeaten run now stretches to 16 matches in all competitions.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 55% Liverpool 45%
Shots at goal: United 9 Liverpool 13
Shots on target: United 3 Liverpool 4
Corners: United 5 Liverpool 7

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian (Fellaini 75); Carrick (Rooney 45), Herrera, Pogba; Martial (Mata 65), Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Smalling, Rashford.

Booked: Herrera.

Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Klaven, Milner; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Firminho, Origi (Coutinho 60).

Subs not used: Karius, Gomez, Moreno, Stewart, Ejaria, Sturridge.

Booked: Lovren, Firmino.

Manchester United 2 Hull City 0

10/01/2017 22:00, Report by Adam Higgins

EFL Cup semi-Final first leg | Old Trafford | Scorers: Mata 56, Fellaini 87

Manchester United took a step closer to reaching the EFL Cup final as goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini earned the Reds a 2-0 victory over Hull City in the first leg of the semi-final.    

The Reds had to be patient against the resilient Tigers but, after a frustrating first half at Old Trafford, the impressive Juan Mata eased any lingering nerves by poking home from close range in the 55th minute.

After Paul Pogba had earlier struck a post with a free-kick, substitute Marouane Fellaini put further daylight between the two sides with a header late on.

With the comfort of a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg at the KCOM Stadium on January 26, Jose Mourinho’s men will be confident of progressing to Wembley to face either Southampton or Liverpool next month.

Despite the crucial Premier League encounter against Liverpool on the horizon, Mourinho – who has expressed his desire to lift the League Cup for the fourth time in his career – fielded an attacking line-up showing seven changes from Saturday’s FA Cup win over Reading but top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed out through illness.

The Reds almost took the lead as early as the second minute after Matteo Darmian broke up Hull’s passing sequence and sped down the left-hand side before picking out Mata, whose curling shot from the edge of the area was parried by Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.

Hull, currently bottom of the Premier League, have never previously reached this stage of the competition but the side under the new management of Marco Silva were intent on making life difficult for the Reds from the outset.

The Tigers threatened for the first time when Harry Maguire drove at the United defence but his low shot was comfortably saved by David De Gea, before Markus Henriksen was forced off with a shoulder injury after just 19 minutes and replaced by striker Abel Hernandez.

With the visitors pinned back in their own half, United established a firm foothold and created a series of openings, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan twice fired off target from Mata crosses before Antonio Valencia lashed another effort over the crossbar from a Rooney knockdown.

Pogba then tried his luck with a spectacular 35-yard shot which was palmed over for a corner by Jakupovic before Marcus Rashford also fancied his chances from distance with a swerving effort that flew narrowly over.

Although dominating possession, United could not find the decisive moment in the first half and were almost breached at the other end when Adama Diomande drifted offside prior to his downward header rebounding back off the post.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession:
United 71% Hull 29%
Shots: United 13 Hull 4
Shots on target: United 3 Hull 3
Corners: United 3 Hull 1

Clearly intent on killing the tie off as quickly as possible, the Reds increased the urgency at the start of the second half and Rooney was inches away from breaking the club’s goals record in the 51st minute after latching onto a Pogba pass – the captain’s low shot went agonisingly wide.

However, United didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough as Mkhitaryan’s header from Valencia’s cross looped dangerously towards the back post, where Mata was lurking to steer the ball home from close range for his seventh goal of the season.

Rooney was made to wait until at least the weekend to eclipse Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goal tally after being withdrawn just before the hour mark as Mourinho introduced some fresh legs in the form of Anthony Martial.

Hull went close to an equaliser against the run of play as Diomande’s acrobatic attempt from six yards flew over from David Meyler’s right-wing delivery.

After Jesse Lingard replaced Mkhitaryan, Pogba must have thought he had scored the second goal but his stunning 20-yard free-kick came back off the post.

United continued to have the lion’s share of possession and were rewarded when Fellaini, on in place of Mata, joined the Spaniard on the scoresheet after meeting Darmian’s deep cross with a well-directed header.

Martial almost added a third strike late on when his powerful effort was beaten away by Jakupovic but United had still taken a big stride towards a first League Cup final appearance since winning the competition for a fourth time in 2010.

Meanwhile, a ninth successive win in all competitions for the first time since 2009 sets the in-form Reds up nicely for the eagerly-awaited Premier League clash with Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon (KO 16:00 GMT).

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession:
United 66% Hull 33%
Shots: United 21 Hull 6
Shots on target: United 6 Hull 3
Corners: United 8 Hull 2

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Pogba, Herrera; Mata (Fellaini 79), Rooney (c) (Martial 59), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 71); Rashford.

Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Blind, Carrick.

Hull: Jakupovic; Meyler, Maguire, Huddlestone (c), Robertson; Henriksen (Hernandez 19), Mason, Clucas, Tymon (Weir 90+1), Snodgrass; Diomande (Maloney 74).

Subs not used: Marshall, Clackstone, Bowen. Booked: Maguire  

Manchester United 4 Reading 0

07/01/2017 14:30, Report by Adam Higgins

FA Cup Third Round \ Old Trafford \ Attendance: 74,396 \ Scorers: Rooney 7, Martial 15, Rashford 75, 79

Wayne Rooney equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record as Manchester United booked their place in the FA Cup fourth round with a convincing 4-0 win over Jaap Stam’s Reading at Old Trafford.

The captain moved alongside a fellow United legend in the club’s all-time scoring charts with his 249th goal and Anthony Martial doubled the lead with a calm finish as the Reds went 2-0 ahead inside the first 15 minutes.

Marcus Rashford stroked home and capitalised on an error by Ali Al-Habsi to add a late double which reflected United’s superiority in a dominant display.

The victory extended the Reds’ winning run to eight matches in all competitions but Jose Mourinho’s men won’t discover our next opponents in the competition until the draw is made on Monday evening.

It may seem a long time since United lifted the FA Cup for a record-equalling 12th time at Wembley last May but the first home game of 2017 saw the Reds begin the defence of the trophy, with the first challenge presenting the return of a familiar face in the opposing dug-out in Stam.

The Reds made a fast start with Rashford, starting as the main striker, firing an effort wide inside 32 seconds before Rooney latched onto a delightful Daley Blind pass and brought a fine low save from Royals keeper Al-Habsi.

It didn’t take the no.10 long to make an impact though, marking his return from a three-game injury absence with a historic moment in the seventh minute. The England skipper managed to react quickly to direct Juan Mata’s cross into the far corner for the record-equalling goal he has been waiting for – which was warmly applauded by Charlton himself and Sir Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box.

Reading – currently third in the Championship – struggled to get out of their own half as the hosts continued to dominate and Martial increased the lead on the quarter-hour mark. The Frenchman played a delightful one-two with Rooney on the edge of the box before stroking a low shot through the legs of Liam Moore and into the bottom corner for his sixth goal of the season.

There was a blow for United, however, when Marcos Rojo – one of only two survivors from the side which beat West Ham 2-0 on Monday – was forced off with an injury in the 19th minute and replaced by Phil Jones. It failed to disrupt the pattern of the game as the irresistible Reds bossed proceedings and created a series of opportunities.

Martial cut inside to unleash an effort which almost slipped through Al-Habsi’s grasp before Rooney and Mata couldn’t find the target with efforts from 20 yards. Rashford latched onto an incisive Chris Smalling pass to round Al-Habsi but could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.

The forward then couldn’t beat the Reading keeper in another one-on-one situation after a clever pass around the corner by Martial but, as referee Andre Marriner blew the half-time whistle, the Reds were already in a commanding position.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 53% Reading 47%
Shots at goal: United 19 Reading 2
Shots on target: United 6 Reading 0
Corners: United 4 Reading 2

It almost got better for United in the early minutes of the second half when a curling Michael Carrick shot was parried by Al-Habsi, who then made a brilliant double save to deny Marouane Fellaini and Rooney from close range.

Rashford was then inches away from connecting with a dangerous low cross by Martial as the Reds continued to apply pressure with a measure of confidence. The visitors, who were FA Cup semi-finalists two years ago, barely threatened but Reds keeper Sergio Romero had to be brave to save at the feet of Garath McCleary.

Just when the game needed livening up, Rashford obliged with a calm and composed finish when played in through the middle by Carrick to add a fairer picture to a scoreline which began to reflect United’s dominance.

And, moments after Bastian Schweinsteiger and Tim Fosu-Mensah were introduced from the bench, Rashford helped himself to another goal to round off the win following a comical moment when Al-Habsi miskicked Moore’s backpass.

After comfortably securing a place in the next round, the Reds will now be looking to make progress in another cup competition on Tuesday night in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against fellow top-flight side Hull City at Old Trafford (KO 20:00 GMT).

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 45% Reading 55%
Shots at goal: United 27 Reading 7
Shots on target: United 12 Reading 1
Corners: United 7 Reading 4

THE TEAMS:

United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo (Jones 19), Blind; Carrick (Fosu-Mensah 78), Fellaini; Mata (Schweinsteiger 78), Rooney (c), Martial, Rashford.

Subs not used: J. Pereira, Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Ibrahimovic.

Booked: Young

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter (c), Blackett (Obita 46), L.Moore, Van den Berg, Evans (Swift 57), Williams, Kelly, Beerens, McCleary, Kermorgant (Samuel 77).

Subs not used: S.Moore, Cooper, Meite, Watson.

Booked: None

Manchester United 2 West Ham United 0

02/01/2017 19:10, Report by Ryan Grant

Premier League | London Stadium | Attendance: 56,996 | Scorers: Mata 63, Ibrahimovic 78

Manchester United made the perfect start to 2017, as second-half goals from Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned Jose Mourinho’s men an important victory over 10-man West Ham United on Monday evening.

Despite an early red card for Hammers midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, the Reds were made to wait for the breakthrough, which eventually came when Marcus Rashford set up fellow substitute Mata inside the area with just under half an hour remaining.

Ibrahimovic added a second strike with 12 minutes to go, firing into the corner after confusion in the West Ham defence, to claim his 17th goal of the season and seal a sixth straight Premier League win.

Ahead of the game – the first between the sides at West Ham’s new home, London Stadium – Jose Mourinho made five changes to the side that came from behind to beat Middlesbrough on New Year’s Eve, with defensive trio Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian among those recalled to the team.

Behind them, David De Gea was making his 250th appearance for the club, and had to make an early save, diving across his goal to tip Manuel Lanzini’s 20-yard effort around the post.

The game’s pivotal moment came just five minutes later, when Feghouli slid into a 50-50 challenge on the edge of the visitors’ area, colliding with Jones. After some deliberation, referee Mike Dean dismissed the West Ham man, and while replays suggested the punishment may have been harsh, it gave the Reds a one-man advantage for the remaining 75 minutes nonetheless.

As expected, the red card left Slaven Bilic’s side in need of a huge defensive effort and, to their credit, the home side restricted the Reds to few sights of goal in the first half.

It wasn’t until the 35th minute that a real opportunity came United’s way, and it was one that should have resulted in an opener. Ibrahimovic found Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the far post, and the Armenian crossed for Antonio Valencia, whose effort was denied by Darren Randolph. When the ball fell kindly for Jesse Lingard, his shot came back off the post, allowing the West Ham keeper to recover.

It was a missed chance that Mourinho’s men almost came to regret at the end of the half, when Lanzini again forced De Gea into action, finding half a yard before curling a shot towards the corner. Instead, United’s no.1 clawed the ball to safety, leaving the game finely poised going into the break.

HALF-TIME STATS

Possession: West Ham 36% United 64%
Shots at goal: West Ham 5 United 3
Shots on target: West Ham 1 United 1
Corners: West Ham 2 United 0

Mourinho made an attacking substitution at the interval, as Mata replaced Darmian. The change saw Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba operating as a midfield two, just in front of stand-in captain Carrick, who moved to centre-back.

It was West Ham, though, who fashioned the first chance of the second half, as Michail Antonio rose to meet Dimitri Payet’s free-kick but couldn’t make a proper connection. The former then had an even better opportunity with half an hour remaining, after being played through on goal by Lanzini, but was denied by the legs of De Gea.

The save would prove key, too, as United took the lead just three minutes later. Rashford – on as a substitute for Lingard – showed great awareness to beat two defenders before playing a neat pass inside for Mata, who unleashed a powerful shot which sailed past Randolph and into the net.

With the Hammers’ resistance finally broken, the Reds went in search of an immediate second, as Pogba curled an effort narrowly wide from the edge of the area, before going close with a similar shot on 74 minutes.

It didn’t take United long to increase the advantage, however, and put the result beyond doubt. This time, Herrera’s blocked shot fell at the feet of Ibrahimovic, who beat the offside trap amid uncertainty in the box, to provide a precise finish past Randolph.

The goal capped what was a patient and professional display in East London, and one which leaves United hot on the heels of the other top-four contenders.

FULL-TIME STATS

Possession: West Ham 36% United 64%
Shots at goal: West Ham 8 United 12
Shots on target: West Ham 2 United 6
Corners: West Ham 2 United 1

THE TEAMS:

West Ham: Randolph; Nordtveit, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Obiang, Kouyate (Fernandes 82); Feghouli, Lanzini (Ayew 89), Payet (Carroll 69); Antonio.

Subs not used: Adrian, Noble, Quina, Fletcher.

Booked: Payet, Nordtveit.

Sent off: Feghouli

United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian (Mata 45), Carrick, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard (Rashford 59), Mkhitaryan (Smalling 65), Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Fellaini, Young, Martial.

Booked: Darmian, Valencia.

Manchester United 2 Middlesbrough 1

31/12/2016 16:53, Report by Jamie Allen

Premier League | 31 December 2016 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,314 | Scorers: Martial 85, Pogba 86; Leadbitter 67.

Manchester United ended 2016 in dramatic fashion after two goals in a minute helped the Reds come from a goal behind to snatch a late 2-1 win over a stubborn Middlesbrough side at Old Trafford.

The Reds were halted by the woodwork twice in the first half as well as the referee after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out for a high foot – a decision which looked harsh, before Grant Leadbitter put the visitors into a shock second-half lead. It looked like it was going to be a frustrating day for the Reds only for two late goals inside a minute from Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba to send United into 2017 with their fifth successive Premier League victory.

With Monday’s trip to West Ham United in mind, Jose Mourinho shuffled his pack by making five changes to the side that comfortably beat Sunderland on Boxing Day. Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Maroune Fellaini, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial all came in for Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, Michael Carrick, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata.

The Reds naturally started on the front foot winning a succession of corners, but United were nearly the architects of their own downfall early on as Ander Herrera lost the ball to Adama Traore who along with two other Boro men sprung a counterattack which should have lead to the opener.

The visitors had a three-on-two situation, but instead of playing in either Stewart Downing or Alvaro Negredo, Traore, in front of the Stretford End, selfishly went for goal from 20 yards and failed to trouble David De Gea.

Aitor Karanka’s men knew they may not have a better chance to score all game and they were nearly made to rue their missed opportunity as Mkhitaryan’s header across goal was met by Pogba, but his acrobatic bicycle kick rebounded off the post.

The Teessiders had other ideas and responded instantly with their second big chance of the game. Another counterattack headed by dangerman Traore, who escaped the clutches of Daley Blind, meant the Spaniard had space to pull the ball back to George Friend, but his shot from 15 yards out was blocked by Fellaini.

Then the main talking point of the first half. An on-song Martial tried his luck from 30 yards, but his rocket cannoned off the post. The Frenchman picked up the loose ball and crossed for Ibrahimovic who beat Victor Valdes to the ball and poked home, only for referee Lee Mason to rule the Swede had lead with a high foot meaning United’s no.9 was stuck on 50 calendar year goals.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 65% Middlesbrough 35%
Shots at goal: United 15 Middlesbrough 6
Shots on target: United 3 Middlesbrough 0
Corners: United 7 Middlesbrough 2

Ibrahimovic was getting closer to his 13th Premier League goal of the season as Pogba fed a pass through to him, but the front man was this time denied by the legs of Valdes.

Martial tested Valdes as United looked to find that important opener, before the sucker punch on 67 minutes. A cross from Calum Chambers found Negredo whose cute headed knockdown was calmly side-footed home by Leadbitter to give the visitors the lead.

Ibrahimovic then had a glorious chance to level straight away, but again former Red Valdes denied him and Martial should have scored 10 minutes from time when one-on-one but Valdes came to the rescue again.

Five minutes from time, however, Martial was not to be denied as a long ball from Bailly was nodded on by Ibrahimovic and the Frenchman fired United level.

A minute later and Old Trafford erupted for a second time as the Reds turned the game on its head. A cross from substitute Juan Mata found Pogba who headed past the helpless Valdes meaning United ended 2016 in the most spectacular fashion.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 66% Middlesbrough 34%
Shots at goal: United 32 Middlesbrough 9
Shots on target: United 12 Middlesbrough 2
Corners: United 12 Middlesbrough 2

THE TEAMS
United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling (Rashford 72), Bailly, Blind (Rojo 64); Fellaini (Mata 64), Herrera; Martial, Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Lingard, Schweinsteiger.

Booked: Blind

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Chambers, Bernardo, Gibson, Friend; Leadbitter (Clayton 78), De Roon; Traore (Fabio 82), Downing (Ramirez 63); Negredo.

Subs not used: Guzan, Ayala, Stuani, Rhodes.

Booked: Chambers

Manchester United 3 Sunderland 1

26/12/2016 16:54, Report by Mark Froggatt

Premier League | Old Trafford | Att: 75,325 | Scorers: Blind 39, Ibrahimovic 82, Mkhitaryan 86; Borini 90+1

Manchester United’s growing confidence and momentum were enhanced further on Boxing Day as Sunderland were dismantled in a fourth successive Premier League victory for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the goals to secure the comfortable 3-1 win, while also extending the Reds’ unbeaten run in all competitions to 11 matches. Bigger challenges will come, of course, but there is no doubt that United are capable of climbing the table.

Mourinho had eight days to prepare for the game and duly made two changes to his starting XI, yet one was forced on him after Wayne Rooney reported an injury when training on Christmas Day. Juan Mata replaced the captain and it was his looping cross which led to an early shot from Michael Carrick, whose volley from the edge of the penalty area went wide via a deflection off Ander Herrera.

Sunderland, managed by the returning former Reds boss David Moyes, could have taken a shock lead on 18 minutes when Jermain Defoe met a punt from his goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to lash a shot just wide. Patrick van Aanholt then forced an excellent save out of David De Gea with his 20-yard free-kick, before United were denied a penalty when Mata was barged to the ground by Lamine Kone.

Paul Pogba went close to breaking the deadlock on 27 minutes when a slick one-two with Jesse Lingard on the edge of Sunderland’s box led to his deflected shot rebounding off the post. De Gea then did well to thwart two quick-fire efforts from Victor Anichebe and Fabio Borini, with the latter soon stinging the Spaniard’s palms once again with a deflected long-range effort moments after.

After Pogba had registered two more shots at goal, United secured a vital breakthrough on 39 minutes courtesy of recalled left-back Blind, who controlled Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pass with his right foot and finished with his left to put the Reds in front six minutes before the half-time break.

STATS AT HALF-TIME
Possession:
United 66% Sunderland 34%
Total shots: United 11 Sunderland 6
Shots on target: United 3 Sunderland 3
Corners: United 3 Sunderland 2

The Reds began the second half with the look of a team that had been instructed to find a second goal and Pogba, so impressive in his all-round midfield play, almost did so with a header that flew over on 49 minutes, before fellow summer signing Ibrahimovic blasted over when put through by Mata.

Mkhitaryan made a welcome return from the ankle injury sustained in the win over Tottenham Hotspur when he replaced Jesse Lingard, and the increasingly popular Armenian was immediately involved when he unleashed a right-footed shot that flew wide from the edge of the area, prompting a warm ovation from the appreciative United fans inside a freezing cold Old Trafford.

Ibrahimovic had  a low shot saved by the foot of Pickford on 65 minutes and the Swede cut a frustrated figure following his missesd opportunity, yet the 35-year-old displayed his fighting spirit throughout the second half and was finally rewarded on 83 minutes. He latched onto Pogba’s pass and dispatched a cool finish into the bottom corner to tally his 11th goal in 10 appearances across all competitions.

Mkhitaryan claimed United’s third strike of the afternoon – and his third for the Reds so far – with a stunning backheel from Ibrahimovic’s cross that must already be among the front-runners for the club’s Goal of the Season award. Ex-Liverpool forward Borini volleyed in a fine consolation effort for the relegation-threatened Black Cats but it could barely affect United’s buoyant mood on a brilliant Boxing Day.

STATS AT FULL-TIME
Possession:
United 63% Sunderland 37%
Total shots: United 25 Sunderland 7
Shots on target: United 9 Sunderland 4
Corners: United 5 Sunderland 5

THE TEAMS
United:
De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Blind; Carrick, Herrera (Fellaini 84), Pogba; Mata (Martial 74), Lingard, (Mkhitaryan 61), Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Rashford.
Booked: Blind

Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Denayer, N’Dong (Love 86), Borini, Larsson (Khazri 83), Anichebe, Defoe.
Subs not used: Mannone, Asoro, O’Shea, Embleton, Honeyman.
Booked: Borini, Kone.