Manchester United booked their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 win at Huddersfield on a night where VAR controversy ruled out a Juan Mata goal.
Romelu Lukaku grabbed both goals from United’s only shots on target, the first coming after just three minutes and the second just after the break (55) – but it was Mata’s disallowed effort for which the game will be remembered for.
With VAR in use, Mata thought he had made it 2-0 just before half-time when breaking in behind and finishing past Jonas Lossl. However, after a big delay and confusion with the VAR pictures, Kevin Friend ruled out the goal as Mata’s knee was marginally offside despite the lines used by VAR not looking straight.
Huddersfield: Lossl (5), Kongolo (6), Billing (6), Van La Parra (6), Williams (7), Ince (7), Quaner (6), Mounie (6), Zanka (6), Schindler (5), Hadergjonaj (6).
Subs: Malone (6), Smith (6), Sabiri (6)
Manchester United: Romero (7), Young (6), Lindelof (6), Smalling (9), Shaw (6), Matic (6), Carrick (6), McTominay (6), Mata (7), Sanchez (6), Lukaku (8).
Subs: Bailly (6), Martial (6), Lingard (6)
Man of the match: Chris Smalling
Huddersfield enjoyed plenty of possession and registered 19 shots on goal but United’s defence – marshalled by the excellent Chris Smalling – kept their eighth clean sheet from their last 10 matches.
Lukaku had United in front early on when collecting Mata’s pass and brushing off the attentions of Christopher Schindler. The Belgium striker still had work to do but planted a clever low finish into the bottom corner.
The goal seemed to spur Huddersfield on rather than United as they peppered the goal with an array of efforts. Tom Ince and Florent Hadergjonaj caused problems and forced Sergio Romero into a couple of stops that he made look easier than they were.
Jose Mourinho made six changes with an eye on the midweek Champions League trip to Sevilla as Paul Pogba missed out through illness while David Wagner made four changes of his own.
However, United maintained their ruthlessness in front of goal when Ashley Young found Mata, who slotted home from a tight angle.
Referee Kevin Friend waited with his finger to the earpiece during celebrations and after two minutes confirmed the goal would not count due to offside called by VAR.
Huddersfield maintained their high-press after the break but Lukaku gave United a two-goal cushion with another clinical finish.
Alexis Sanchez’s pass was seized upon by the Belgian and he bore down on goal before smartly tucking home.
Man of the match – Chris Smalling
Lukaku was the match-winner as he took both of United’s chances in clinical fashion but it was the England international that kept his side in the game for long periods. Huddersfield put plenty of pressure on United’s backline and Smalling kicked, headed and stifled every attack that the hosts threw their way. A colossus.
- Lukaku has scored 11 goals in his last 10 FA Cup appearances.
- Lukaku’s opener was scored after two minutes 36 seconds – it was the fastest goal by Man Utd in the FA Cup since Ryan Giggs vs Fulham on January 26th 2013 (02:04).
- Lukaku has scored 20+ goals in all competitions in each of his last four seasons at club level.
- Mata has provided 28 assists for Man Utd since his debut, more than any other player at the club.
- Huddersfield have won only one of their last 19 FA Cup matches against sides in the top-flight (D4 L14).
Manchester United play Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Huddersfield face West Brom at The Hawthorns next Saturday in a big relegation clash.