A clinical second half display saw Manchester United survive the big scare bestowed by Wigan Athletic (masterminded by Warren Joyce, former reserve coach at United), and they eventually cruised to a comfortable victory to book a spot in the FA Cup fifth round.
It was a scrappy start for both teams as both teams struggled to get hold of the ball, but Wigan were quick to impose themselves as they look more organised than United, and with their pace and determination were causing much trouble to United’s backline as Romero was tested a couple of times from long range by the Wigan players, while the Red Devils themselves looked like a team cut in half, with the defense and attack failing to link-up via the midfield, and the Red Devils failed to register a single shot on target, with Mkhitaryan coming closest on the 32nd minute, but his attempt was completely off target following a brilliant delivery from Fosu-Mensah. The lack of pace and movement gave the match a very lifeless feeling, and even the fans may be were drawn into the lethargy as there was no real sign of support behind the home team. United had to wait until the 44th minute to finally have their first shot on target, and it resulted in a goal, as Fellaini out-muscled his defender to head in Schweinsteiger’s cross. Yet, in his usual unsatisfied demeanor, Mourinho was the first one to make way towards the dressing room before the half-time whistle, and things must have heated up suddenly there when the players got in for half-time.
The second half was yet a cagey affair at the start, but United looked more lively as first Fosu-Mensah threatened with a shot that was just wide of the post, but Smalling made no mistake on the 57th minute when he rose to head in Martial’s cross to double the lead. Tuanzebe was then given his first game with the first team when he came on to replace Fosu-Mensah, who seemed to have picked up a knock earlier, and by that time the Red Devils were in control of the game, although Romero was forced to save again at the other end as Wigan looked to pop in a surprise goal on the break. The quick counter that followed from the save was deadly for Wigan thou, as Mkhitaryan and Martial combined well, and the latter fed a delightful pass for the former to conclude with a third goal. Wigan could have got one back minutes later, after a defensive mix-up between Tuanzebe and Smalling, but the latter was on hand to deflect Browne‘s goal-bound effort just wide of the post for a corner kick instead. United however got complete control of the ball in the final 10 minutes, and Schweinsteiger got his name on the scoresheet as well to show that he’s still here and must not be written off, as he went for an acrobatic finish following Herrera’s headed attempt that turned into a pass, and there was no looking back from there on as the Red Devils sealed their win and progress to the 5th round of the FA Cup competition.
It was a doubtful game that turned into a showboating one in the end, but with the EPL resuming as from Tuesday, the Red Devils will need to digest this win quickly and focus back on some pressing matters again as they continue to chase the CL spot, and face Hull City yet again on Wednesday night, and may be it is high time they start to convert the goals in the EPL as well like they usually do in cup ties, as this is where the goals count most, with the goal average and goal differences coming into play to either gain or lose a spot in the table.