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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019


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Good morning! And welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of today’s FA Cup third round clash between Manchester United and Reading.

Wipe the sleep out of your eyes, pop the kettle on and settle in for some intriguing cup action — sure it’s never too early.

The Ole revolution is well and truly underway and with four Premier League wins on the hop, the fun factor has been brought back to Old Trafford by the babyfaced ex-striker from Norway.

Today Solskjaer’s men welcome Reading to the Theatre of Dreams looking for a fifth consecutive win in a row, with a familiar face in John O’Shea also making a return to Old Trafford.

Kick-off is coming up in just over an hour’s time at 12.30pm.

Let’s get started with the team news…

So, today’s teams will line out as:

Manchester United: Romero, Dalot, Darmian, Jones, Young, McTominay, Fred, Andreas, Mata, Lukaku, Alexis.

Substitutes: Grant, Lindelof, Fellaini, Garner, Chong, Martial, Rashford.

Reading: Jaakkola, Yiadom, Ilori, Moore, Richards, Kelly, Rinomhota, McCleary, Swift, Harriott, Loader.

Substitutes: Walker, Gunter, O’Shea, Aluko, Barrow, Meite, East.

There’s no place for Sheasy in Reading’s starting XI this afternoon but he has been named on the bench. The 37-year-old enjoyed more than a few happy memories at Old Trafford down through the years, making 256 appearances, winning five Premier League titles, one Champions League and — yes — one FA Cup.

The Waterford man was quick to praise former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his impressive start to life in the hot-seat in charge of Man United. “It’s been an amazing start for Ole, it’s been incredible,” O’Shea told a Reading press conference this week.

“He’s brought enjoyment and that freedom of expression; they’re at Manchester United because they’re good players. That’s the big thing. He’s looked from the outside at what he’s tried to do.

Source: BeanymanSports/YouTube

“Knowing Ole, the type of player and person he was, you can see why the board and the club decided to go that way. He’s doing a hell of an impression to get the job, that’s for sure.”

The former Ireland international said of the key elements the Norwegian has brought to the set-up: “It’d be that enjoyment factor, and that professionalism and killer instinct he had.

“That’s definitely been the key. The main thing is to have that enjoyment element and maintaining the standard of what the club and fans hope and expect to see.”


A promising early start from Reading here. They are battling desperately against relegation in the Championship, currently occupying 23rd spot with just 20 points from 26 games, but are holding their own in these initial exchanges.


Liam Kelly will be a familiar name to Irish audiences today. The mercurial midfielder turned down an international call-up by Martin O’Neill last year having represented Ireland at U19 and U21 level, failing to reply to the manager’s messages prior to a friendly against Turkey. 

“The lad didn’t get back to me,” O’Neill said. “He sent me a text message about four or five days afterwards. At the end of it all, I’m not going to push it. It’s up to the players.” He didn’t seem best pleased about being left on “seen.”


A first chance of the game for Man United. Ashley Young floats an inviting free kick into the box. Scott McTominay rises highest and heads towards goal, but he collides with an opposition player along the way and will now receive medical attention.


McTominay is okay to continue after taking that knock in the penalty area competing for a header. Reading straight away revert back to their early spell of possession which they are enjoying early on here, with Andy Rinomhota and Kelly both looking comfortable on the ball in the middle of the park.

Manchester United v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett


Strike! Out of no-where Man United snap awake and all of a sudden Alexis Sanchez is lining up a shot from right outside the box. He really whacks it, but his strike dips the wrong side of the crossbar. Loads of power, but just not enough dip. It almost looked like booting a beach ball the way it went up and down over such a short distance. Alexis sighs and heads back to try again.


Reading respond in kind with their own ambitious strike at the other end. Garath McCleary delivers a low cross into the area which finds Andy Rinomhota, but his effort flies over the top of Sergio Romero’s crossbar. Very close though.

Britain Soccer English FA Cup Source: Rui Vieira


Man United have the ball in the back of their opponent’s net, but we’re not quite sure if it’ll count. The linesman raised his flag for offside to cancel out Fred’s finish, but there may also be a shout for a penalty for a foul beforehand. Free out, goal or penalty? The referee pauses to make a decision. The drama…




The referee points to the spot for a foul on Juan Mata! Fred’s goal won’t count as he was deemed offside, but Man United do have the chance to take the lead from the spot here after VAR was deployed to assist. That was terribly confusing altogether.


GOOOOOOAL!!! After all that Juan Mata steps up and fires the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola to make it 1-0. A fine penalty, struck low and powerfully off the post and into the back of the net. We have a breakthrough at Old Trafford.

Manchester United v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford Source: Dave Thompson


After a sleepy start to this game Man United have woken up and are searching for a second straight away. Ashley Young bounds down the left wing and provides an inviting low cross whizzed right into the danger zone, but Jaakkola comes from his line to gather smartly. Reading really starting to get pinned back here.


Chances at both ends now. Romelu Lukaku races free with the goal at his beg and mercy, but Tiago Ilori stays with him just enough to put the Man United striker off on his weaker left foot. At the other end United’s high line is caught completely off guard as Danny Loader sprints free on goal. The 18-year-old rounds Sergio Romero, but the Argentine goalkeeper recovers in time to boot the ball out for a corner.

Manchester United v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford An electronic scoreboard shows VAR is in use, resulting in a penalty for Manchester United. Source: Martin Rickett


Reading really upping their tempo here. Another close opportunity comes and goes as Callum Harriott sizes up a shot from distance on his left boot. He slices a clean strike aimed towards Romero’s top right corner, but it flies the wrong side of the post and comfortably wide. A really entertaining game, this. Plenty of shots from all angles.


Alexis Sanchez breaks free inside the box as United try and double their advantage before the half is out. He cuts onto his right foot and prepares to pull the trigger, but Tiago Ilori reads the situation brilliantly to toe-poke the ball away from danger at the last possible second. Well read.

Manchester United v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford Alexis Sanchez and Reading's Andy Yiadom battle for possession. Source: Dave Thompson


Five minutes to go before the break and both teams really do look like potentially scoring at any moment. Reading were heavy, heavy underdogs heading into this game and — sitting second bottom of the Championship — rightly so. But Jose Gomes’ men have more than held their own here. They don’t look cowed or overly intimidated and are creating a lot of promising attacking patterns. A very open, expansive game from both sides.


There will be five minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.


Close! Andy Yiadom picks up the ball inside the box and, despite being surrounded by a host of bodies in red shirts, turns brilliantly to get his shot off and force a strong save from Romero. That easily could have flown into the roof of the net, and you have to say Reading are ending this first half very confidently in search of a leveller.


GOOOOALLLL!!! It’s an absolute sucker punch to Reading as Man United double their advantage deep into stoppage time. Right after Yiadom’s chance at one end, Alexis Sanchez cuts Ilori and Liam Moore to pieces with a brilliant ball through the heart of the Reading defence. Romelu Lukaku chases possession and rounds the goalkeeper before sliding the ball into an empty net. A cool, calm finish and it’s 2-0.

Manchester United v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford Source: Dave Thompson


A dramatic end to the half then. It’s been a really intriguing and entertaining FA Cup affair. These early kick-offs can be hit and miss at the best of times, but credit to both teams because they have put on a fine match so far.

Juan Mata’s penalty broke the deadlock as we saw VAR put to use, with Romelu Lukaku doubled United’s lead with an excellent finish deep into added time. Reading will feel a little hard done by with a 2-0 scoreline.

Jose Gomes’ men have not just men behind the ball so far and have more than their share of chances to test Sergio Romero. But none have been converted and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have been ruthless in punishing Ilori and Moore at the other end. More action to come shortly!


A chance right from the off for Reading. The ball is teed up on the edge of the area for John Swift, but he blasts a poor effort right over the top of the crossbar. Gomes’ side have nothing to lose in this second half really, so seem to be going for it right from the get-go.


A second chance in quick succession for Swift at the start of this second half. This time it’s a free-kick struck from 30 yards, but it’s right at Sergio Romero, who gathers easily to keep his clean sheet intact.

Manchester United v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford Source: Dave Thompson


It’s all Reading right now, but United are keeping them at arm’s length and restricting the visitors to shots from range. Another effort flies towards goal, this time from the boot of Liam Kelly, but it misses the target and ends up comfortably wide.


Save! Callum Harriott comes agonisingly close to halving the deficit. A brilliant ball through the heart of the United defence sees the winger one-on-one with Romero in front of goal. He sends the goalkeeper the wrong way with a low strike, but the United goalkeeper sticks out his legs just enough to keep the ball away. An excellent stop.

Britain Soccer English FA Cup Source: Rui Vieira


Romelu Lukaku responds at the other end by barging through a host of Reading defenders trying to get his shot away in the box. His eventual effort is blocked down at the last second, with Andreas Pereira unable to provide a follow-up to keep the pressure up. Both teams are slugging it out at the moment, end-to-end stuff.


There is a buzz about Old Trafford as 19-year-old Dutch winger Tahith Chong comes on for the very first time for Manchester United. The player’s impressive hair catches the eye immediately, but he shows what he can do with the ball at his feet with a darting run through midfield as soon as he picks up possession. One to definitely keep an eye on for the near future.


Substitution for Man United: Marcus Rashford replaces Alexis Sanchez.


Almost a third for United. Ashley Young joins the attack down that lefthand channel and gets to the byline before crossing into the box. It almost takes a touch off Liam Moore before ending up in his own goal, but Jaakkola steadies the ship and collects possession off his line with calm assurance. Reading holding on here, trying not to concede another.

Britain Soccer English FA Cup Source: Rui Vieira


Close! Second-half introduction Sone Aluko takes possession on the edge of the box as Reading punish Ashley Young for sloppily giving away the ball needlessly. Aluko tried to curl the ball into Sergio Romero’s bottom corner, but the goalkeeper managed to sprawl himself across and tip the ball to safety.


Reading running out of steam a little bit here. Aside from Juan Mata’s penalty they were largely a match for Man United throughout the first half, but they have really tailed off since going two goals down. John Swift and Danny Loader have been isolated figures in this second half up front, struggling to get the better of Matteo Darmian and Phil Jones.


With a plethora of changes and substitutions, United are now the side content to sit back and soak up pressure. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men seem content with their two goal lead with 10 minutes to go. Liam Kelly and Modou Barrow are doing their utmost best to fire crosses into the danger zone to try and ignite the most unlikely of comebacks for Reading late on here, but nothing is coming off.


For the love of God, Jose Gomes, do the right thing and bring on Sheasy. It’s the right thing to do. Even with all your substitutes used up already, just log him on. He deserves a send-off from Old Trafford surely.

Source: sagar desai/YouTube


Reading are just strumming the ball to and fro for these final few minutes now. The result seems all but a foregone conclusion as empty pockets of seats begin to open up all throughout the ground as supporters take their leave. This turkey is cooked.


A moment of comic relief as Marcus Rashford races through on goal, rounds the goalkeeper and gets ready to slip the ball into an empty net… before falling on his backside. His last touch was a little heavy and the in-form striker tried to bring it under control, but his touch let him down a second time as he tumbled to the floor with a smile and a laugh.


There will be three minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.

There we have it. Another game, another win for Man United under the stewardship of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — that’s five in a row now. Reading provided a decent test throughout much of an entertaining first half, but Juan Mata’s penalty plus another deep into stoppage time from Romelu Lukaku made it a comfortable win in the end. Thanks a million for joining us this afternoon — you can read our full match report from today’s game here. Bye!

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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