Casemiro scored twice and Fred got the other as Manchester United’s Brazilians played a crucial role in securing FA Cup progress.
Manchester United had to be patient but eventually cruised to a deserved 3-1 FA Cup win over Reading on Saturday thanks in part to Casemiro’s brilliant brace.
Royals, managed by former United midfielder Paul Ince, frustrated the Red Devils in the first half at Old Trafford, but Erik ten Haga’s side simply had too much quality in the end.
Marcus Rashford’s 35th-minute disallowed goal would have been just reward for United, but the breakthrough was only a matter of time and came through a fine finish from Casemiro.
He then added a long-range second before Fred’s outrageous volley finished off Reading after Andy Carroll had been sent off for two bookings, with Amadou Mbengue’s late header a mere consolation.
United were dominant from the start, with Reading struggling to get out of their half.
Bruno Fernandes went close before Rashford looked to end the visitors’ resistance, but his header was ruled out for offside against Wout Weghorst.
Reading then missed the best chance of the half when Junior Hoilett robbed Tyrell Malacio in the box and forced David de Gea into a crucial stop.
United capitalized on that release right after the break.
Antony’s disguised pass was found by the onrushing Casemiro, whose cheeky header left Joe Lumley soundly beaten.
Casemiro, brought on by substitute Fred, netted again four minutes later when his first-time effort from 30 yards found the bottom-right corner with a slight deflection.
Carroll saw red after some wild challenges and a minute later Fred made it 3-0 with a sensational backheel from Fernandes’ cross.
Mbengue pulled one back with a powerful header, although United’s victory was never in doubt.
What does it mean? United continue to struggle on all fronts
Although Reading were frustrated by a brave defence, an upset never looked likely here because United were so agile going forward.
Beating the Championship side won’t suddenly win any remaining doubters over The Hag or his vastly improved United side, but their patience, persistence and overall threat are positives that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
They are now in the last 16 of the FA Cup, 90 minutes from the EFL Cup final, and stay alive in the Premier League – presumably – and the Europa League. As far as starting a new era goes, it’s a decent start.