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Match Reports


17 February 2018

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Manchester United confirmed their progression to the Quarter Finals of the Emirates FA Cup courtesy of a clinical brace from Romelu Lukaku.

Town were always up against it as Lukaku struck his first just 3 minutes in, but despite rallying to give the away side a real test of character, the Belgian sent United through by tucking away his second on the counter to kill off the Terriers' tremendously spirited challenge.

The tie would also break new ground in HD1 with the use of VAR technology to overule what would have been a visiting second earlier than when it eventually came to the fore.

Christopher Schindler skippered a strong Town side tasked with inflicting a second defeat of the season in West Yorkshire for Jose Mourinho's travelling Red Devils. Philip Billing and the returning Danny Williams anchored the central midfield, with Steve Mounie retaining his place leading the line following his brace against Bournemouth last time out. Collin Quaner, Tom Ince and Rajiv van La Parra were all named in the starting team, hunting to replicate the impressive display seen in the previous round's tie at Birmingham.

The visitors made a number of changes, but their eleven still contained frequent starters Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling and Nemanja Matic ahead of their mid-week UEFA Champions League fixture with Sevilla.

Buoyed from that emphatic league success over Bournemouth, Town started with evident confidence and determination to hit the ground running.

Multiple fair but firm challenges cut out any potential United breaks towards the wing partnership of Mata and Sanchez, one of which leading to a break down the right for Collin Quaner. Coll dragged his resulting effort wide of the far-post after showing good pace to work his way past Lindelöf.

That early positivity was dealt a cruel blow, as Romelu Lukaku put the away side ahead.

Lukaku latched onto a long ball from the back, and slotted home into the bottom corner after sharply turning away from Christopher Schindler deep inside the penalty area.

A first chance, a first goal for United. But back came Town, as Tom Ince was the next man in Blue to witness his cushioned effort roll inches the wrong side of the post following Terence Kongolo's superb through ball.

The atmosphere was electric on a chilly Saturday evening. Florent Hadergjonaj signalled his offensive intentions down the same flank as Quaner by delivering accurately towards the rejuvenated Steve Mounié. The Benin striker has seen his work rate vitally rewarded over the last fortnight, but wouldn't be amongst the goals early on in this one as he couldn't quite connect with Hadergjonaj's centre under pressure from Chris Smalling.

Blue and White pressure proceeded United's opener, and Town were certainly playing with the freedom that the Head Coach expected in Friday's press conference; including a high level of composure both in and out of possession.

Tom Ince may have thought he'd over done his pass to the by-line bound for Quaner; the latter recovered excellently to force Romero into a tip over his bar at the last second from a cheeky cross aiming to catch the Argentinian out.

The Red Devils would always pose a threat in the face of adversity. It took a brave Christopher Schindler block to deny Chris Smalling from firing home a deflected rebound, instigated from Sanchez's near-post flighted corner.

A tidy spell in possession concluded in Romero having to be on his toes to collect Rajiv van La Parra's stooping header after Danny Williams had done superbly to breeze past Luke Shaw and cross invitingly.

'Inviting' would've been a particularly useful phrase for the next of Town's numerous chances which ultmately went begging. Hadergjonaj again delivered superbly across the face, with the arriving cavalry including Tom Ince, who couldn't guide the ball goalwards on the slide despite losing the attentions of several United defenders around the penalty spot.

David Wagner would have been suitably happy with the way his side had taken a large grip of this Cup encounter. Danny Williams set about marking his return with a goal in spectacular style from range, Sergio Romero was more than equal on this occasion to keep his own team's slender advantage in-tact for the time being at least.

On the defensive end, Terence Kongolo certainly kept the lead from extending with a perfectly timed intervention on Lukaku before the Belgian forward could find two searing Red shirts unmarked over on United's right to cap a quick breakaway.

Just like the second half at Birmingham, the tie was captivating, and had no shortage of action. Philip Billing let fly with a left-footed shot from easily over 35-yards, and as it looked to have been screaming towards the top corner, Romero showed good hands to pluck from the air.

As the half drew to a close, United thought they had a second against the run of play; until the historic application of VAR ruled otherwise, meaning that Juan Mata's strike having rounded Jonas Lössl was to be disallowed for offside. The biggest of let-offs for the Terriers to ensure that a comeback was still very much a possibility come the other side of the interval.

Indeed that theme of Town dominance continued. Hadergjonaj's display had been of a quality calibre, and the Swiss full-back beat markers to surge down the right just minutes after the restart. The resulting cut-back towards Quaner was cleared before the German could pounce to equalise.

The John Smith's Stadium faithful thought that elusive equaliser was on the cards as a deflected Tom Ince free-kick fell to Rajiv van La Parra. But the Dutchman mis-cued his volley, giving the away side the chance to clear their lines.

Town's pressing, harrying and pass distribution was nothing short of superb; the only thing lacking- a thoroughly deserved reward.

Not turning that pressure into goals would prove costly, as a lightning United break ended with Lukaku doubling his tally for the evening to make the score 2-0 as Town pushed forward.

Chances became scarce as United began to control the game, protecting the lead.

David Wagner spruced things up in an attempt to establish a platform to build that desired comeback with the introductions of Scott Malone and Tommy Smith.

However, it would be the figure of Philip Billing who danced his way into a shooting position, only to fire tamely at Romero.

United were content to sit deep, control possession and take their time working openings. Nonetheless, Abdelhamid Sabiri headed over from a corner just seconds after entering the field of play in the place of Rajiv van La Parra.

Steve Mounié acrobatically attempted to instil a glimmer of Terriers hope as injury time approached, but in the end a valiant effort fell short, bringing the curtain down on this year's Emirates FA Cup campaign.

Town return to Premier League action next Saturday with a trip to West Bromwich Albion (February 24, 3pm).

TOWN (4-2-3-1): Jonas Lössl; Terence Kongolo (Scott Malone, 70'), Christopher Schindler (c), Mathias Zanka, Florent Hadergjonaj (Tommy Smith, 70'); Danny Williams, Philip Billing; Rajiv van La Parra (Abdelhamid Sabiri, 84'), Tom Ince, Collin Quaner; Steve Mounié

UNUSED SUBS: Joel Coleman, Dean Whitehead, Jonathan Hogg, Laurent Depoitre

MANCHESTER UNITED: Sergio Romero; Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelöf, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young; Michael Carrick (c), Nemanja Matić, Scott McTominay; Alexis Sánchez (Anthony Martial, 75'), Romelu Lukaku (Eric Bailly, 90'), Juan Mata (Jesse Lingard, 80')

UNUSED SUBS: Joel Pereira, Matteo Darmian, Angel Gomes, Ethan Hamilton

REFEREE: Kevin Friend

ATTENDANCE: 17,861 (3,860 Manchester United)

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