Sol­sk­jaer makes it five wins in a row

United coach rings the changes for Cup match against Read­ing

The Sunday Independent - - SPORT - REUTERS

MANCH­ESTER United’s Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer en­joyed his fifth suc­ces­sive vic­tory since be­ing named in­terim man­ager as his much-changed side beat sec­ond-tier strug­glers Read­ing 2-0 at home in the FA Cup third round yes­ter­day.

Juan Mata’s penalty and a well­taken ef­fort in first-half stop­page time by Romelu Lukaku, given his first start since Sol­sk­jaer took over, sent United into the fourth round.

It was a sub­dued per­for­mance by the 12-times FA Cup win­ners at Old Traf­ford, where Read­ing im­pressed, but main­tained for­mer United striker Sol­sk­jaer’s dream start to life in the hot seat va­cated last month by Jose Mour­inho who was sacked.

Sol­sk­jaer be­comes the first United man­ager to be­gin his reign with five straight wins since Sir Matt Busby.

United were joined in the next round by West Ham United who beat sec­ond-tier Birm­ing­ham City 2-0 at the Lon­don Sta­dium – Samir Nasri mak­ing his de­but for the Ham­mers in his first game since com­plet­ing an 18-month dop­ing ban.

Aus­trian Marko Ar­nau­tovic put West Ham ahead early on but was later sub­sti­tuted be­cause of in­jury. His re­place­ment, Andy Car­roll, struck West Ham’s sec­ond in stop­page time.

Premier League strug­glers Burn­ley made hard work of a 1-0 win over third-tier Barns­ley in a match no­table for a bizarre in­ter­ven­tion by the video as­sis­tant ref­eree (VAR) – the sys­tem be­ing used in nine of the 32 third-round ties.

Burn­ley were awarded a penalty for a foul on Matej Vy­dra be­fore the in­ter­val but just as he was run­ning

In the ear­lier kick­offs, West Bromwich Al­bion beat 2013 FA Cup win­ners Wi­gan Ath­letic 1-0 while third-tier Shrews­bury Town held Stoke City, rel­e­gated from the top flight last sea­son, to a 1-1 draw. Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and Lu­ton Town drew 0-0.

Cup hold­ers Chelsea were in ac­tion later, beat­ing Not­ting­ham For­est 2-0 at home­while Ar­se­nal vis­ited Black­pool.

Sol­sk­jaer made nine changes to the side that beat New­cas­tle United in mid­week and there was a dis­jointed feel to his team’s dis­play as Read­ing matched their il­lus­tri­ous op­po­nents.

Fred, an­other player to get a rare start, thought he had given United the lead mid­way through the first half but was flagged off­side, although Mata was fouled in the build-up.

Ref­eree Stu­art At­twell, helped by VAR, brought play back to award a penalty which Spa­niard Mata stroked home.

Read­ing had chances be­fore and after that with Andy Yi­adom and Danny Loader guilty of bad misses, and United were given breath­ing space when Lukaku latched onto a su­perb pass by Alexis Sanchez to round keeper Anssi Jaakkola and slot home.

“He has had his time off over Christ­mas and now he is get­ting his fit­ness back,” Sol­sk­jaer said of Lukaku.

“He needed the 90 min­utes, but I thought he took the ball well with a great pass from Alexis - that’s two (as­sists) in two (games) for him now he has made which is also a pos­i­tive.”

The only mo­ment of note in a dour sec­ond half was Sol­sk­jaer giv­ing a de­but to 19-year-old Dutch young­ster Tahith Chong. | Reuters

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