MANCHESTER UNITED 4 LATICS 0
There was to be no repeat Mancunian FA Cup fairy-tale for Latics despite the team – and 3,000 vociferous supporters - giving everything at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
United’s finishing was clinical in the second half having gone ahead just before the end of an even first half in which Latics had more than held their own and with Latics pushing for goals after the break, gaps appeared which were ruthlessly exploited.
Disappointment but certainly no complaints when the players put so much into a performance which they can hopefully continue in the league programme.
There were no changes for Latics from the side that beat Brentford last week, but Yanic Wildschut was back on the bench after missing out versus The Bees and there was a highly welcome return to the squad for Reece James after a full 12 months out. United’s side registered nine changes from the EFL Cup semi-final, but was still full of experienced internationals, including World Cup winner Bastien Schweinsteiger.
Latics could count themselves a little unfortunate to be undone two minutes before the break as Marouane Fellaini used all his strength in the box to meet Schweinsteiger’s cross with a powerful header from close in, and the goal changed the whole complexion of the game.
The only other scare in the first half had come in the 37th when United broke quickly through Anthony Martial, he fed Timothy Fosu-Mensah on the right and Henrikh Mkhitarian failed to make a strong enough connection at the far post.
Latics’ best the half came after 11 minutes and it was Callum Connolly forcing a good save from Sergio Romero after he latched on to a Dan Burn knock-down from Max Power’s free-kick floated into the box.
Latics had a great chance to get level after 54 minutes when Romero punched Connolly’s right wing cross only as far as David Perkins, twenty yards from goal. The shot was low and on target but Romero was able to get down smartly to save.
It proved to be a costly moment as United doubled their lead three minutes later when Chris Smalling powerfully met Martial’s cross and headed in the second.
Wildschut was introduced two minutes after the goal in place of Perkins , followed by Ryan Tunnicliffe, back where it all started for the midfielder, on in place of Will Grigg.
Connolly almost connected with Power’s free-kick floated in from the right side but seconds later, Latics found themselves three down when a lightning quick break saw Mkhitaryan feed Martial and the Armenian international bundled home from close range having begun the move.
Marcus Browne came on to make his Latics debut on 76 minutes and almost made a spectacular impact, unfortunately his goal-bound shot was deflected for a corner when Romero looked as if he might be beaten.
Latics conceded a 4th goal as Wayne Rooney’s corner was knocked on by Ander Herrera and Schweinsteiger flicked it in with his back to goal from close range.
The Latics fans kept singing away despite the game being lost; whatever was happening on the field, they were determined to enjoy the occasion!