Manchester United secured safe passage beyond the FA Cup third round with a 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Monday night. The dull affair never really seemed set to go against United apart from an early chance saved by Andre Onana, and the sense of the usual uneasiness over the blunt performance quickly turned to boredom as the Reds meandered their way through the second half.
It didn’t start off as a dull affair though, with United creating and getting forward with pace in the opening stages. Despite the number of chances created by and for United’s forwards, it was Diogo Dalot who broke the deadlock. Getting forward from his inverted left-back role, Dalot delivered a curling shot from the top of the box to push the ball through the crowd and into the bottom corner of the Wigan net.
It felt like the first of what should have been several goals scored, but that was all United could produce in the first half. Rashford had a couple of opportunities to cut and shoot palmed away by Wigan goalkeeper Sam Tickle, with another almost spilled through his hands into the net, and Rasmus Hojlund and Scott McTominay each had wasted opportunities in the middle of the six-yard box.
There will be some worry over the failure to score more goals against weak opposition, and certainly the poor finishing of Hojlund and McTominay given their prominent usage up front.
The second half was a bit more of the same United control with fewer promising chances, though the lead was doubled in the 74th minute with Bruno Fernandes winning and converting a penalty for the Reds. It wasn’t the most satisfying way to wrap up the match, but at this point it’s hard to ask for much more than a win however it comes.
The intensity of the game dropped after the penalty. Erik ten Hag did hand very appearances to Willy Kambwala, Omari Forson, and Hannibal Mejbri, but other than that there was nothing really notable happening late.
United move on to face either Newport County or Eastleigh away in the fourth round of the FA Cup, pending the result of that replay, in what is sure to be a match at least as exhilarating as this one was.