Manchester United cruised into the fifth round of the FA Cup by overpowering ten-man Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
The Championship visitors kept their hosts out for the first 45 minutes but United eventually broke their resistance as Casemiro struck twice in quick succession.
The Brazilian ran onto Antony’s pass and chipped Joe Lumley to put Erik ten Hag’s side 1-0 up before a long range strike found its way into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Andy Carroll charged around with aggression all night and ended up being sent off for two bookable offences before Fred added a third, cleverly back-heeling Fernandes’ cross in at the front post.
United switched off in the 72nd minute to gift Reading a consolation, with Amadou Salif Mbengue given a free header to reduce the deficit three minutes after his introduction.
The Red Devils saw out the rest of the contest to book their place in the next round, joining the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Leeds.
United looked sharp throughout the first half, quickly exploding into attack with opportunities for Wout Weghorst and Christian Eriksen before a double chance fell to for Eriksen and Marcus Rashford. However, Lumley denied them on both occasions.
Fernandes lifted an effort just over before a brilliant Antony run ended without reward.
The deadlock seemed to have been broken ten minutes before half time when Rashford smashed in from close range, but Weghorst was shown to have been offside in the build-up.
The breakthrough eventually came when two Brazilians combined to cut through Reading’s defence. Antony picked out Casemiro with a precise pass, allowing the former Real Madrid midfielder to run in and dink Lumley for the game’s opener.
He netted his second goal just before the hour mark with more of a pot shot. A free kick was never fully cleared by Reading and Casemiro struck a fierce effort from distance that whistled in.
United’s job got a lot easier when Carroll was given his second yellow card for wiping out Casemiro and they took advantage of their numerical superiority by netting a third.
A short corner was worked to Fernandes, who fired the ball into Fred to inventively flick the ball beyond Lumley.
The visitors were rewarded for their efforts when United suddenly went limp at a corner, allowing substitute Mbengue a free header to reduce the deficit. It meant little, however, with the Royals exiting the FA Cup and United reaching the last 16.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Unsurprisingly a quiet night for De Gea, who had to clean up loose ball on occasion. Sharp stop to deny Hoilett.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7/10 – Left the tackling to Malacia on the left but another display which shows his improvement under Ten Hag.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 6/10 – Decent enough for most of the night but he and Maguire won’t be back in the Premier League starting XI anytime soon conceding poor goals from corners.
CB: Harry Maguire – 6/10 – We all got the Maguire vs Carroll battle we didn’t know we needed. He came out of that clash having performed well enough.
LB: Tyrell Malacia – 7/10 – Did present a big chance to Hoilett but managed to wake up to deliver a better performance.
CM: Casemiro – 9/10 – Provided a run from midfield and finished Antony’s pass well before netting from distance. Simply cannot do any wrong right now.
CM: Christian Eriksen – 6/10 – Came close with a free kick that whizzed past the post.
RW: Antony – 8/10 – Produced some marvellous running and the weight of pass on his delivery to Casemiro was perfect. Delivered end product which has been missing recently.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Got United purring in attack and played the ball in for Fred to make in 3-0.
LW: Marcus Rashford – 7/10 – No goals for the England international but his pace and direct running was a threat.
ST: Wout Weghorst – 7/10 – Provided some more selfless pressing and occupied defenders while his teammates did the damage.
Fred (57′ for Christian Eriksen) – 8/10 – Got United’s third and was efficient during his sub appearance.
Facundo Pellestri (68′ for Fernandes) – 6/10 – Quiet final 20 minute appearance.
Alejandro Garnacho (68′ for Rashford) – 6/10
Kobbie Mainoo (68′ for Rashford) – 6/10
Anthony Elanga (73′ for Weghorst) – 6/10
Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – United averted any fears of a potential upset with a second half blitz which allowed Ten Hag to shuffle his pack in late on.
GK: Joe Lumley (5); CB: Tom McIntyre (6), CB: Tom Holmes (6), CB: Junior Hoilett (5); RWB: Andy Yiadom (5), CM: Jeff Hendrick (6), CM: Abdul Rahman Baba (6), CM: Tom Ince (7), LWB: Mamadou Loum (6) ST: Andy Carroll (5), ST: Lucas Joao (6).
SUBS: Tyrese Fornah (6), Amadou Salif Mbengue (8), Dean Bouzanis (6), Shane Long (6).