United Kingdom

Casemiro double helps Man Utd cruise past Reading

Casemiro underlined his importance to Manchester United with two goals as they cruised past Reading to reach the FA Cup fifth round at Old Trafford.

While the Brazil midfielder was brought to the club in August 2022 to deliver steel to the heart of United’s midfield, he displayed his effectiveness further forward to break the Royals’ resistance early in the second half.

He scooped home the opening goal after racing on to Antony’s incisive pass, and doubled United’s lead four minutes later, curling in from the edge of the box after collecting Fred’s pass.

“He’s done what he was brought in to do. He’s a phenomenal player,” said United captain Harry Maguire.

“You don’t win what he’s won without being a top player. He’s improved the team, the morale, the performance and it is great to have him.”

The former Real Madrid midfielder’s absence was sharply felt by United during their Premier League defeat at Arsenal last weekend, and he was given a standing ovation by the home supporters who fully recognise his value to the club.

“He [Casemiro] is really important with all his experience, but he is such a smart player and intelligent,” said United manager Erik ten Hag.

“He knows the positions, how to deal with the ball and also he is creative as well, and we are really happy with him. He is important for the improvement of the team.”

Any hopes Reading had of mounting a recovery were dented when Andy Carroll was sent off after picking up his second yellow card shortly before Fred backheeled in the hosts’ third goal from Bruno Fernandes’ cross.

And although Ten Hag’s side had opportunities to score a fourth, substitute Amadou Mbengue headed in a consolation for Championship side Reading from Tom Ince’s corner.

Casemiro and Fred show the way in front of goal

Casemiro had not scored twice in a game since January 2020, when playing for Real Madrid against Sevilla

The last of United’s 12 FA Cup triumphs came in 2016 and Ten Hag signalled the importance he is placing on this competition by selecting a strong starting XI containing just one change from their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg win against Nottingham Forest midweek.

And there could be little doubt United deserved their victory after dominating a one-sided affair in which they initially struggled to make the breakthrough because of profligate finishing.

Winger Antony was particularly wasteful with four shots in the first half, each curling effort almost a carbon copy of the previous one, all drifting wide of the far post.

Fernandes twice dragged efforts across goal and wide, while Wout Weghorst, Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford all had opportunities to break the deadlock.

When United did get the ball in the back of the net VAR came to Reading’s rescue, with Netherlands forward Weghorst ruled offside before he nodded the ball in Rashford’s direction, with the England striker heading in at the back post in vain.

They were nearly made to pay on the stroke of half-time but goalkeeper David de Gea saved with his legs after Tyrell Malacia’s error presented the ball to Junior Hoilett 10 yards out.

Casemiro’s quality came to the fore after the break. While he is renowned for breaking up play and his contribution in front of United’s penalty area, he used his experience to drive forward from midfield and showed the nous to deliver a wonderful finish from Antony’s pass.

His second came from much further out as the home side penned Reading in their area, before his international team-mate Fred provided a sprinkling of samba flair with a sublime finish to ensure a comfortable passage for United.

Line-ups

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1de Gea
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 5Maguire
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 12MalaciaBooked at 78mins
  • 18CasemiroSubstituted forMainooat 73′minutes
  • 14EriksenSubstituted forFredat 57′minutes
  • 21Antony
  • 8Bruno FernandesSubstituted forPellistriat 68′minutes
  • 10RashfordSubstituted forGarnachoat 68′minutes
  • 27WeghorstSubstituted forElangaat 73′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Li Martínez
  • 17Fred
  • 19Varane
  • 22Heaton
  • 28Pellistri
  • 33Williams
  • 36Elanga
  • 49Garnacho
  • 73Mainoo

Reading

Formation 5-3-2

  • 1LumleySubstituted forBouzanisat 75′minutes
  • 23HoilettSubstituted forMbengueat 69′minutes
  • 17Yiadom
  • 3Holmes
  • 5McIntyre
  • 12Baba
  • 10Ince
  • 22LoumSubstituted forFornahat 62′minutes
  • 8HendrickSubstituted forCraigat 75′minutes
  • 2CarrollBooked at 65mins
  • 9Lucas JoãoSubstituted forLongat 76′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Dann
  • 7Long
  • 11Meite
  • 15Azeez
  • 18Guinness-Walker
  • 19Fornah
  • 21Bouzanis
  • 27Mbengue
  • 36Craig

Referee:
Darren England

Attendance:
73,460

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