Juan Mata sent Manchester United into the FA Cup fourth round with a neat dinked finish in the 67th minute to secure a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in their replay at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Mata was played clean through by Anthony Martial and calmly chipped goalkeeper John Ruddy for the only goal against Wolves who knocked United out of last season’s FA Cup and had a 10th-minute effort ruled out by VAR.
The first match at Molineux between the teams, both in the last 32 of the Europa League and with plenty of tired legs, had ended goalless with United failing to land a single shot on target.
United’s celebrations were muted, however, by an injury to their top scorer Marcus Rashford who came on as a second-half substitute for Daniel James and played only 16 minutes before limping off injured.
“That backfired, but you’ve got to go for them once in a while,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport.
The injury left the England striker a doubt for Sunday’s Premier League clash against runaway leaders Liverpool at Anfield.
“It seems like he’s got a knock there and he couldn’t run, so let’s test him in the next couple of days. Hopefully, he’ll be OK for Sunday, I don’t know,” said Solskjaer.
In the night’s other replay, Cardiff City beat fourth tier strugglers Carlisle United 4-3 in a livelier game to set up an all-Championship (second tier) clash with Reading in the fourth round.
United will next play either Premier League rivals Watford, last year’s runners-up, or third tier Tranmere Rovers whose replay on Tuesday was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Prenton Park.
Solskjaer’s side were let off the hook after 10 minutes when a VAR review showed the ball had bounced off Raul Jimenez’s hand before Portuguese teenager Pedro Neto scored for Wolves.
The visitors also went close from a corner when Matt Doherty flicked his header onto the post.
Even if the score remained goalless at the break, there had still been five shots on target with United providing three of them.
“I think you can see there’s two teams there that towards the end were tired. End-to-end, an open game which sometimes doesn’t suit us. We wanted to control the game more,” said Solskjaer.
“Juan Mata is different class. He’s got the skill, the composure and even pace to get through there.”
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo said his side had not defended the goal well but it had been a good game and he was frustrated with the outcome.
“That’s VAR, you cannot do anything. We are celebrating non goals. It doesn’t make sense,” he added.
PSG crush Monaco 4-1 to extend Ligue 1 lead
Paris St Germain secured a convincing 4-1 victory at Monaco in a rescheduled game to open an eight-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 standings on Wednesday.
Three days after the sides drew 3-3 at the Parc des Princes, Kylian Mbappe scored twice, Neymar netted a penalty and second-half substitute Pablo Sarabia was also on target for PSG, while Tiemoue Bakayoko briefly reduced the arrears for Monaco.
PSG moved to 49 points from 20 games and have clear water between themselves and second-placed Olympique de Marseille on 41.
Stade Rennais are five points further adrift in third after the Brittany side beat Nimes 1-0 away courtesy of a second-half Adrien Hunou goal on Wednesday.
Monaco are ninth on 29 points.
PSG went ahead in the 24th minute when Mbappe beat the offside trap to collect Angel Di Maria’s through-ball and beat Benjamin Lecomte with a low angled shot.
Keeper Keylor Navas preserved PSG’s advantage with a fine save to deny Gelson Martins’ half-volley four minutes later.
Neymar made it 2-0 two minutes into the second half, converting a penalty, after Layvin Kurzawa had been brought down by Kamil Glik, for his ninth goal in his last eight appearances for the capital side.
Sarabia put the result beyond doubt in the 72nd by volleying home from fellow substitute Marco Verratti’s pass a minute after the pair had come off the bench.
Bakayoko pulled one back for the hosts, poking the ball home from Adrien Silva’s free kick in the 87th, only for Mbappe to score again one minute into stoppage time at the end of a sharp counter attack after being set up by Neymar.
Mbappe has now scored 13 goals in 14 games, one fewer than Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder, the league’s top scorer.