MANCHESTER UNITED HOST the Royals in the last remaining FA Cup fifth round fixture.
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Manchester United 2-1 Reading
19.31 – Good evening. The Premier League leaders welcome the side currently placed 18th in the table but tonight it’s all about the FA Cup.
The last time these two met back in December, this happened:
YouTube credit: TheMadeEasy
19.36 – Here are how the two teams will line out. Lots of changes on both sides:
Manchester United: De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Vidic, Buttner, Valencia, Cleverley, Anderson, Young, Welbeck, Hernandez. Subs: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Giggs, Carrick, Nani, van Persie, Kagawa.
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Mariappa, Morrison, Shorey, McCleary, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff, Hunt, Le Fondre. Subs: Andersen, Gunter, Pearce, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie, Carrico, Pogrebnyak.
And the official team-sheet:
Alex Ferguson makes 8 changes from the team which played Real Madrid in mid-week with neither Wayne Rooney nor Robin van Persie involved from the start. Reading, meanwhile, bring in six players since their last outing. They’ve also got two Irish internationals in the shape of Stephen Kelly and Noel Hunt.
19.52 – Alex Ferguson has just confirmed it…
20.00 – The referee for the night Andre Marriner gets the coin toss out of the way and off we go. Both clubs wearing their traditional home colours.
20.04 – Barely one minute played and United go close to opening their account. Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia all have pops at goal from inside the Reading box but after the first two are box, Valencia heads over the bar.
20.10 – United mean business here. Ashley Young finds Welbeck with a beautiful pass and the English striker forces Adam Federici into a decent save.
20.11 – Reading earn themselves a corner and it’s Nick Shorey to take. He sends his delivery to the far post where Nemanja Vidic needs to be alert to clear with Sean Morrison loitering behind him.
20.15 – A nasty clash of heads between Vidic and Noel Hunt has left the Waterford native with blood pouring from his head. There’s a stoppage in the game while the pair receive treatment:
20.18 – Hunt has had a quick wardrobe change (replacing both his jersey and shorts to the amusement of fans) and Reading have 11 men on the field again.
20.20 – Vidic deals with a Shorey free-kick expertly but Reading try again when Hernandez concedes a foul against Kelly on the halfway line.
20.24 – Best chance of the game so far and it’s gone to the home side. Cleverley sweeps a low drive towards the bottom corner and it’s kept out by Federici, who parries. Young follows up the rebound but is denied by the Australian stopper.
Hunt is having more trouble with blood, meanwhile, and is now onto his third shirt of the night.
20.35 – Anderson with the corner from United and Chris Smalling leaps highest but can’t keep his header down and it sails harmlessly over.
20.40 – Phil Jones is struggling with what looks to be an ankle injury after clashing with Jobi McAnuff. It doesn’t look good and Rio Ferdinand has gone out to get warm while the United medical staff attend to the defender.
20.43 – Morrison strikes wide from the right and it’s in fact Nani who will replace Jones with Valencia slipping into full-back.
20.47 – Adam Le Fondre, so often Reading’s hero this season, has been quiet so far but just showed a glimpse of what he can do. The striker took a pass 40 yards out from goal and ran at the opposing defence before seeing his shot saved by David De Gea.
Nani, only on the field, has just cracked the post with a terrific half-volley. We’ll have four minutes of added time due to the stoppages.
20.50 – Half-time: Manchester United 0-0 Reading
Nani looks in the mood to impress here. This time he cuts inside onto his left and aims a strike towards the top corner. Federici palms away.
From the resulting corner, Tom Cleverley fires wide with the last action of the half.
21.07 – There are 21 players on the pitch so we’re just waiting for Noel Hunt to emerge from the tunnel before we get going again. According to the ESPN pitchside reporter, he has had 6 staples put into his head during the break.
Here he comes now.
21.16 – Hunt in the thick of the action again. He’s just picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Chris Smalling.
21.22 – One of the Old Trafford ball boys has done a swift lap of the pitch to tell his the rest to up the tempo on their retrieving of the ball. Fergie mustn’t be happy.
21.24 – Anderson bursts through the Reading defence and shoots towards goal where the Royals keeper again saves. Nani then scuffs wide when a corner falls to him.
We’re about to see the introduction of Robin van Persie. He’s coming on for Young. Danny Guthrie has also joined the action for Mikele Leigertwood.
21.26 – Nani is given far too much 20 yards out from goal and fizzes an effort narrowly wide.
21.28 – United are turning the screw here and have just won their sixth corner of the second half.
Expect to see much more of this if they don’t score soon though.
21.30 – GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Reading (Nani)
It was coming. Nani, who has had more shots than anyone else since coming on, collects a pass from Valencia with his first touch and drives it home with his second. Just the Portuguese winger’s third goal this season.
21.33 – GOAL! Manchester United 2-0 Reading (Javier Hernandez)
Nani turns provider to cross for his Mexivan team-mate, who gets to the front post for a glancing header.
21.44 – Manchester United 2-1 Reading (Jobi McAnuff)
Just when it looked like the stuffing has been somewhat knocked out of Reading with those two quick-fire goals, they pull one back. Smalling can’t make proper contact to stir a pass from deep away and McAnuff is first to react by drilling past De Gea.
21.44 – Michael Carrick is on to steady the ship for the remaining seven plus minutes. He takes Anderson’s place.
21.50 – Super move. United break at pace through Hernandez who picks out Van Persie before the Dutchman returns the favour. Hernendez drills on at the body of Federici and Nani then volleys into the sidenetting when it falls to him.
21.52 – The board has gone up to signal four minutes of additional time as Chicharito and Nani attempt to run the clock down with a short corner.
21.56 – Full-time: Manchester United 2-1 Reading
Reading have one final throw of the dice from a free-kick just right of the box. Federici leaves his goal to join the attack but it’s headed behind for a corner.
When that is swung in, United do enough to avert the danger. Nani, who has been in inspired form since coming on, picks out Hernandez with a cross-field ball and his snap-shot is kept out.
Nani then curls a free-kick over the bar and the final whistle goes.