A much-changed Manchester United progressed to the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic on Sunday afternoon.
The result ensured it would be an unhappy return to Old Trafford for former Reserves coach Warren Joyce, as Marouane Fellaini headed United in front, before second-half goals from Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger put the Latics to the sword, and the Reds into the hat for Monday’s draw.
Ahead of the match, Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side that faced Hull in Thursday evening’s EFL Cup semi-final second leg, with attacking quartet Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, and Wayne Rooney among those returning to the starting line-up.
Backed by a vocal travelling support, Wigan started the game brightly and registered the game’s first attempt on goal through Callum Connolly, whose powerful drive was punched away well by Sergio Romero.
By contrast, United were struggling to get into any kind of rhythm during a difficult opening 20 minutes, though the returning Luke Shaw showed a glimpse of his ability with a positive run down the left. In a half of few goalscoring chances, the Reds’ first opportunity came on 24 minutes, as Shaw’s chipped pass was headed out as far as Mata, whose effort sailed comfortably over the crossbar.
Mourinho’s men then had an excellent chance to break the deadlock on the half-hour mark, as Martial sprinted forward and found the overlapping Tim Fosu-Mensah, but Mkhitaryan could only divert the defender’s cross wide at the far post.
The next opportunity, however, did produce a goal. With seconds remaining in the first half, patient build-up play involving Rooney and Mkhitaryan eventually saw Schweinsteiger pick up possession on the right-hand side. The midfielder whipped in an inviting delivery and there was no doubt about the outcome, as Fellaini headed home to give United a timely lead.
Possession: United 71% Wigan 29%
Shots: United 3 Wigan 3
Shots on target: United 1 Wigan 2
Corners: United 2 Wigan 0
Buoyed by the Belgian’s opener, the Reds picked up where they had left off – on the front foot. Four minutes into the second half, Rooney set Fosu-Mensah through on goal, but the youngster dragged his effort wide of the post after driving into the area. At the other end, the visitors could and perhaps should have levelled through midfielder David Perkins after Romero had parried a cross to the edge of the box, but the United keeper recovered to save with his legs.
It was a missed chance that the Championship side would come to regret as, just minutes later, United added a second through Smalling. This time, Martial carved out half a yard of space on the left, and delivered a well-flighted ball to the far post, which the defender met well to head home.
Then followed a special moment for Axel Tuanzebe with 23 minutes remaining. Recently called up to the first-team squad after impressive performances for the Reserves, the young centre-back hugged Mourinho on the touchline, shook hands with Joyce and replaced Fosu-Mensah to make his first senior appearance for the club.
Wigan were determined to remind United of their attacking intent, as Connolly forced Romero into another save, but again the Reds broke away to make the Latics pay. A swift move saw Martial race into the box, and the Frenchman crossed for Mkhitaryan to tap in a third and put the result beyond any doubt.
Schweinsteiger’s goal nine minutes from time was the icing on the cake, as the German – making his first start in over a year – acrobatically converted subsititute Ander Herrera’s knock-down from a corner. Chants of “Wembley” followed, as United’s FA Cup defence continued with a convincing win.
Possession: United 71% Wigan 29%
Shots: United 11 Wigan 7
Shots on target: United 4 Wigan 5
Corners: United 5 Wigan 2
United: Romero (J Pereira 80), Fosu-Mensah (Tuanzebe 67), Smalling, Rojo, Shaw, Fellaini (Herrera 70), Schweinsteiger, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Martial, Rooney.
Subs not used: Blind, Young, Ibrahimovic, Rashford.
Wigan: Haugaard, Connolly, Buxton, Burn, Warnock, MacDonald (Browne 76), Power, Morsy, Perkins (Wildschut 59), Jacobs, Grigg (Tunnicliffe 70).
Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, James, Kellett, Morgan.