Live Commentary: Manchester United 2-1 Reading - as it happened

United striker Javier Hernandez heads the second goal against Reading on February 18, 2013
© PA Photos
Read how Manchester United managed to book their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the expense of Reading.

Manchester United played host to Reading this evening with the winner earning a place in the quarter-finals of this evening's FA Cup.

Following a goalless first half, the hosting Red Devils took a 2-0 lead thanks to strikes from substitute Nani and Javier Hernandez in quick succession.

Jobi McAnuff brought Reading back into contention in the closing stages, but his effort proved to be a mere consolation.

You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute commentary below.


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7.03pmEvening all. Well, the powers that be and the television companies don't half like spreading out the FA Cup weekend these days, do they? Not that there are any complaints here because it means more football to watch! Tonight we've got Manchester United and Reading looking to move into the quarter-finals.

7.06pmNot that this is a tie that many Reading supporters will have been relishing. In truth, it probably couldn't have got much worse. The Royals have NEVER won at Old Trafford. In fact, the last time that they recorded any victory over United was way back in 1927. Although they may take some sort of boost from the fact that the win did come in the FA Cup.

7.08pmAnyway, that's enough negativity for now! The team news from Old Trafford is just filtering through...

7.09pmMAN UNITED XI: De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Vidic, Buttner; Valencia, Anderson, Cleverley, Young; Welbeck, Hernandez

7.11pmSo, as promised by Sir Alex Ferguson, it is a much-changed United starting lineup. Phil Jones will revert to a more usual centre-back position, where he will partner captain Nemanja Vidic. Antonio Valenica, Anderson and Ashley Young have also been included in the midfield. However, there is no place in the squad for Wayne Rooney, who has been rested.

7.12pmREADING XI: Federici; Kelly, Shorey, Mariappa, Morrison; Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, McCleary; Hunt, Le Fondre

7.14pmAnd that is the cast as far as Reading are concerned. As a result of his clinical goalscoring exploits from the bench in recent weeks, Adam le Fondre has been handed a starting role alongside Noel Hunt. That in turn means that Pavel Pogrebnyak will have to settle for a place among the substitutes.

7.15pmTalking of substitutes, here is who has been included on both benches:

Man United: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Kagawa, Van Persie

Reading: Andersen, Gunter, Pearce, Carrico, Guthrie, Robson-Kanu, Pogrebnyak


7.19pmThat United bench looks rather strong doesn't it? Not only does it contain the likes of Ryan Giggs, Shinji Kagawa and Nani, but Robin van Persie has also not been given the night off. It seems as though his request to be involved has been granted by his manager. Here's what he had to say about the prospect of being rested over the weekend:

"I'm used to playing games every few days," the Daily Mail quotes him as saying. "I like it because I get into a rhythm.

"When you don't play for more than a week, it can take you 10-15 minutes to start because you're missing that rhythm. I prefer to keep going, to keep playing game after game.


7.23pmVan Persie was involved when these two met at the Madejski earlier in the season for what was one of the maddest Premier League games for a long while. The match finished 4-3 to United, with all the goals coming before the half-time whistle. Something similar tonight would be good, although I'm not sure my typing fingers would agree!

7.25pmFor those that don't remember that match, although not sure that is possible, here is a visual reminder:


7.28pmBREAKING NEWS: Nothing to do with this match, but elsewhere it will come as little surprise that Paolo Di Canio has handed in his resignation at Swindon Town. It would be fair to say that the former West Ham United striker has not enjoyed the best of relationships with the club's board of late. The story is developing here.

7.33pmIt seems that no manager hangs about for too long these days, does it? Di Canio only took charge at the County Ground in May 2011. One gaffer that has got some staying power though is Alex Ferguson. The Scot has seen it all before and he is not expecting his side to have an easy ride this evening:

"The incentive’s there to get to the quarter-finals. I don’t think that will be lost on the players, no matter what side I pick," he said. "We’re taking nothing for granted. With an FA Cup tie you always have to expect the unexpected. It happens so many times, you just don’t want to be a casualty or a shock.

"For many people, it’s Reading and they think ‘Yeah, we’ve just been to Madrid, it was a great night and this will take care of itself’. It can’t take of itself. We have to take care of it. We must have a performance that respects our opponents and the fact the FA Cup can produce shocks.

"We’ve suffered them ourselves and we don’t want another one. I went to see Reading last week and they’re a team showing plenty of fighting qualities, as you’d expect being down the bottom part of the league."


7.37pmFerguson's opposite number this evening, Brian McDermott, has been full of praise for the veteran boss over the last few days. Here's a snippet of what he has had to say.

"That attitude comes from the manager and the ingredients he puts into the mix," he said. "Sir Alex has an incredible will to win and you can see that from the way he is on the touchline.

"Whatever he puts into the game, they never feel like they are beaten. We're trying to get that too. Luckily we have had that over the last few years. We've kept going in the last few games particular."


7.43pmIf McDermott's side are to cause a shock tonight, you get the feeling that one man in particular will be responsible. Adam Le Fondre certainly knows where the net is at the moment - seven goals in as many matches proves that point. He is also a boyhood United fan and if he needed any extra motivation, he was turned down by the Red Devils as a youngster. Time to prove some people wrong perhaps?

7.47pmSo, with just over 10 minutes to go until we get started, why not give our match preview a read? Daniel Cross has gone for a 3-1 victory to the home team and there are little arguments here with that prediction here. That could be just about right.

7.51pmBREAKING NEWS: This time it is about this match. Alex Ferguson has just confirmed that Wayne Rooney will play no part tonight because of a sinus infection. The striker went in to training yesterday morning and was immediately sent home. He should be fit for Queens Park Rangers at the weekend though.

7.54pmA little bit more from Ferguson, who has been talking to ESPN:

"You see the results in the last round and this weekend, who would think Blakcburn would win at Arsenal? The Cup can make things happen.

"Every game is a selection dilemma. All the big games are cropping up and it's not easy but I have to pick the right team."


7.57pmAn update on the dodgy Old Trafford pitch, courtesy of Man United journalist Mark Froggatt on Twitter: "Turf watch: There are currently 15 groundsmen working on the surface. Pitchforks at the ready, boys."

7.59pmRight then, the players are out and the handshakes have been completed. We will be off and running shortly...

1 minHere we go then. Reading get us started...

2 minCHANCE! A big opportunity for United to take an early lead goes a begging. Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Antonio all have attempts from inside the penalty area, but none are able to beat Adam Federici. Big escape for Reading early on.

4 minSAVE! United have started superbly tonight - all that is lacking is a goal. Ashley Young picks out Welbeck inside the area, and despite a narrow angle, the England international opts to shoot. His effort is powerful, but Federici gets his body behind the ball to save. Reading need to ride this out.

7 minSome words from Kevin Kilbane, who is working for BBC Sport: "These are bad signs for Reading. They're sitting very deep and leaving Adam Le Fondre up front on his own. They've got to regroup and regain a bit of composure."

10 minCredit to Reading because over the last few minutes they've worked their way into this tie. They are getting much more support to Le Fondre, who is occupying Nemanja Vidic well. Something needed to change from their point of view because it looked as though United were going to run away with this at one stage.

13 minWe've got a stoppage play as both Vidic and Noel Hunt have blood injuries to their heads. They clashed in mid air, with Hunt coming out the worse of the two. It shouldn't be enough to force either off the pitch though.

16 minBoth players are now back with us, although it took Hunt much longer to return than Vidic. He had to change his entire kit, shorts included, because they were bloodied. We now have 11 vs. 11 again, thankfully.

19 minGreat defending from Vidic has just prevented Reading from going in front. It looked for all the world that Sean Morrison was going to nod Nicky Shorey's free kick into the net from six yards out, but the United skipper sprung above his Reading counterpart to head clear the danger. Brave stuff from the Serbian.

21 minHunt is being forced is off again. The wound has reopened and blood is pouring down his shirt for a second time. Could be another change of kit coming up for the Irish striker.

23 minDOUBLE SAVE! Fantastic - that is the only word to describe Federici's work. He threw himself to his right to deny Tom Cleverley's grass-cutting shot from 20 yards out. The rebound fell to Young, who looked to have the most simple of tap-ins. The Reading keeper had other ideas though and sprung up to push Young's effort beyond the post. Great work from the Aussie. Meanwhile, wearing his third shirt of the night, Hunt is back with us.

25 minMore from Kilbane on the Federici double save, again talking to BBC Sport: "Brilliant strike by Cleverley and a wonderful save by Federici, who couldn't get the ball far enough away. A good strike by Young on the follow-up, but a wonderful recovery from the keeper. Good goalkeeping."

30 minIt's all gone a bit scrappy at Old Trafford, which will probably suit Reading. The home side are struggling to put together any of the slick football that they managed to produce in the opening exchanges. A lot of the credit for that must go to the Royals, because they've got among their opposition.

34 minVidic really is a dominant figure in the United defence. He has won so many headers this evening and in key areas as well. His presence is also allowing David de Gea to remain on his line when crosses from either side are being sent into the penalty box.

37 minWe've got another injury stoppage as Phil Jones is down with an ankle injury following a collision with Jobi McAnuff. The United defender looks to be in a lot of pain. It doesn't look like he will be able to continue here.

40 minSUBSTITUTION: And that is indeed game over as far as Jones is concerned. He looks frustrated as he limps down the tunnel because he has struggled for fitness this season. Nani has taken his place, which will mean that Valencia will drop to full-back.

43 minSAVE! It's an easy stop for De Gea down to his left, but one that he needed to make nonetheless. Le Fondre was the one that tried his luck from distance, but it never looked like going in.

44 minOFF THE POST! Almost an immediate impact from United sub Nani. Welbeck's cross is cleared to the Portuguese winger, who is standing 25 yards from goal. He chances his arm with an instant volley, but the ball cannons to safety off the left upright. Another escape for the Royals.

45 minThe fourth official has indicated that there will be a minimum of four minutes of stoppage time...

45+3 minSAVE! Nani is having a real impact since he entered the action. On this occasion he collects a short pass by Valencia and sends a swerving shot goalwards from around 30 yards out. Federici is equal to the shot though and palms clear the danger.

45+5 minHALF-TIME: Man United 0-0 Reading

8.53pmSir Alex Ferguson is not happy about something as he trudges down the touchline. He is locked in conversation with the fourth official Phil Dowd and it's not the friendliest of chats! Not quite sure what the Scot is complaining about, Reading have not been particularly dirty in their play.

8.57pmWhile he is angry with the officials, Ferguson can be pretty pleased with what he has seen from his side so far. Okay, they haven't scored, but they've created numerous chances and if that continues after the break, they should win this tie. The introduction of Nani has given them another dimension.

9pmBrian McDermott will be equally as content though. Having wobbled at the start, they've rode their luck and have now settled into this match. They haven't really tested De Gea in the United goal, but the main thing is they haven't conceded either. They will need a greater attacking threat after the break if they are to win tonight though.

9.01pmHere's a summation of the first 45 minutes by The Mirror on Twitter: "Half time in Manchester United - Reading. Phil Jones got injured and Noel Hunt had his head lubed. That's about it. 0-0." It's hard to disagree in all honesty!

45 minRight then - everyone is present and correct and no changes have been made. The second half is underway...

49 minCHANCE! Just as they did in the first half, United have started this half brightly. Their first chance was created by Valencia, who cut the ball back for Cleverley. He in turn drilled in a shot from the edge of the area, but his effort was blocked and then cleared.

53 minA quick update on Hunt, who suffered a head injury during the first half. The Reading striker had to have six staples in his head during the break to seal the wound and now he is back out there running around. Who says footballers are soft?!

55 minBOOKING! The Irishman also shows that he likes a tackle. He flies into a challenge with Chris Smalling and is about two seconds too late! Andre Marriner has no hesitation in booking Hunt, who for some mad reason tries to protest his innocence. You won't see a more blatant yellow card this season.

60 minSAVE! There's a sense of urgency about United's play now and Anderson goes close with a rising effort from 10 yards out that is saved by Federici. As he goes to take the corner, the United midfielder calls for the home support to lift the noise inside Old Trafford - he's got a point, it is quiet.

63 minSUBSTITUTION: Here comes Van Persie for Man United. The Dutch striker has taken the place of Ashley Young. Ferguson is obviously keen to avoid this going to a replay. Reading have also made a change as Mikele Leigertwood is hooked and Danny Guthrie comes on.

66 minCHANCE! Nani has had a really good game since he came on during the first half. On this occasion he skips inside to get the ball on his left foot. His effort curled just wide of the post, with Federici looking well beaten.

69 minGOAL! Man United 1-0 Reading (Nani)

70 minMoments ago I said how well Nani has been playing and he has been rewarded for his work. Valencia fizzes the ball to him inside the area and he takes one touch before firing the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net, leaving Federici no chance in the Reading goal. It's a deserved lead for the home side.

71 minSUBSTITUTION: McDermott reacts to seeing his side falling behind by bringing on Hal Robson-Kanu in place of Garath McCleary.

72 minGOAL! Man United 2-0 Reading (Hernandez)

74 minHernandez is a goalscorer, plain and simple. Nani turns creator on this occasion, sending over a teasing cross from the right wing towards the near post. The little Mexican gambles and gets to the ball first to glance a header into the net from close range. That should be game over.

78 minUnited are beginning to dominate proceedings with ease. Nani and Anderson are at the forefront of every good move that they put together at the moment. The pair almost combined a couple of minutes ago, but Nani's pass was just behind the Brazilian, who was waiting inside the area and the danger was well cleared by the Reading defence.

81 minGOAL! Man United 2-1 Reading (McAnuff)

82 minWell, well - game on. Chris Smalling fails to clear the danger and Jobi McAnuff capitalises by seizing the ball inside the United area. The Reading skipper steadies himself and then pokes the ball underneath De Gea and into the net from eight yards out. We have a game on our hands now because Reading have showed they are capable of such comebacks already this season.

84 minSUBSTITUTION: A tired looking Anderson is given a breather by Ferguson and Michael Carrick will come on to try and steady the United ship during the last few minutes. They'll need it as well because Reading are having a right go now.

88 minSAVE! Federici has been superb for Reading tonight and he just continued that form to deny Hernandez's powerful drive from outside the area. The keeper then receives a bit of luck as Nani can only find the side netting with the rebound. Reading are leaving a lot of gaps at the back now as they go in search of an equalising goal.

90 minReading have four minutes of stoppage time to keep their FA Cup hopes for this season alive...

90+3 minThe Royals have a free kick wide on the right and Federici is up...

90+3 min...United survive, but only just as the ball is cleared for a corner. This will be Reading's last chance...

90+4 min...Which is eventually cleared for a throw by United. Surely that will be time?

90+5 minAnd now United have a free kick 25 yards from goal. That should be enough for them. Nani looks like he is going to have a strike here and why not? It should be the last kick of the game.

90+6 minFULL TIME: Man United 2-1 Reading

9.58pmSo, it was little bit nervy at the end, but United are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Reading produced a spirited performance, but over the 90 minutes United deserve to progress. A home game against Middlesbrough or Chelsea is their reward.

10pmThat is all we have time for from Old Trafford. But before we leave you, why not give our match report a read? Thanks for joining us this evening. Until next time, goodbye.

United striker Javier Hernandez is congratulated by Sir Alex Ferguson after his winning strike against Newcastle on December 26, 2012
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