Draw puts Donny level at summit
Mon, 18 Feb 2013 22:25:00
Goals from Nani and Javier Hernandez were enough to help treble-chasing Manchester United into the last eight of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win against Reading.
Substitute Nani made an immediate impact soon after coming on in the fifth-round tie at Old Trafford on Monday night, breaking the deadlock with a right-foot drive which flicked off Sean Morrison and past Adam Federici after 69 minutes.
The hosts doubled their advantage three minutes later as Javier Hernandez met the Portuguese winger's cross at the near post to head in his 15th strike of the campaign.
Reading pulled a goal back with time running out after some woeful defending allowed Jobi McAnuff time to slot his effort away.
The Red Devils could have added a third late on as the Royals pushed on, but it was United who progressed in the end.
However, an injury to Phil Jones took the gloss off a victory that keeps United on track for a repeat of their historic 1999 treble, and Sir Alex Ferguson on course for a possible encounter with Rafael Benitez, whose Chelsea team must beat Middlesbrough for the right to face the Old Trafford giants in the last eight.
Reading goalkeeper Federici was forced to deny Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young had a shot blocked before the visitors soon got into their stride, with Noel Hunt to the fore.
Hunt sustained a nasty cut following a collision with Nemanja Vidic that required two shirt changes, but also set the pattern for a bruising collision between the pair.
The sharpness had soon gone out of United's play, although they should still have been in front after Federici pushed Tom Cleverley's long-range effort into Ashley Young's path. It seemed the England man only had to hit the target. But Federici was able to scramble across to push the shot wide when really he should not have had chance to.
Funnily enough, Jones' departure, while potentially a major blow to Ferguson's plans for subduing Ronaldo next month, sparked the hosts into life. Nani's third touch following his introduction as Jones's replacement saw him strike the far post with a fine volley, while his fourth was tipped over by Federici's flying save.
There was one more save from Federici before the dam finally broke. Nani's introduction had undoubtedly been significant and moments after his effort had been repelled, he strode onto Valencia's cross and supplied a deadly finish.
When Hernandez flashed home a near-post header on United's next attack, it appeared their work was complete.
Instead, McAnuff struck nine minutes from time to bring a familiar sense of nervousness to Old Trafford which only Andre Marriner's final whistle was able to ease.
The Magpies head to Ukraine for the second leg this week after their goalless first leg draw with Metalist Kharkiv.
Yanga-Mbiwa told nufcTV: "There were lots of positives to take out of the match and we'll go away, try to get one or two goals and come away with a victory."
Yanga-Mbiwa made his full debut against the Ukrainians and says he is determined to build on that opportunity and establish himself at St James's Park.
He added: "I was very excited to get going in the Newcastle shirt. It was good to get my foot in the door and show the team that I can work well with the squad."
Cattermole's season has been dogged by a knee complaint which forced him off in the home defeat to Arsenal, but he hopes to be passed fit for the weekend trip to West Bromwich Albion.
Bramble told the Sunderland Echo: "Lee is someone that we've really missed. He's the captain and he can be a very influential player when he gets a run in the side.
"He's been a big miss over the last few months because he's a leader with this great will to win."
Crawley, who like Rovers have also gone four matches without victory, carried more threat in the second half at the Broadfield Stadium but lacked a cutting edge.
Winger Nicky Adams had a low drive blocked by Jamie McCombe before Josh Simpson drove Crawley ahead on 25 minutes.
Midfielder Simpson latched onto a ball from Adams and fired home from 20yards to the right of keeper Gary Woods.
Crawley lost Simpson with a leg injury before Rovers levelled two minutes from the break when David Cotterill crossed deep to the far post where James Husband struck with a diving header.
Keeper Woods came to Rovers' rescue by producing two important saves in less than a minute from the hour mark in denying Billy Clarke and defender Mustapha Dumbuya.
Striker Jamie Proctor had a chance to win it for Crawley in the 65th minute but headed wastefully over from close range following a cross by the hard-working Clarke.