It was a dismal affair that lasted 120 minutes, but Manchester United came away with a win over West Ham to progress to a record seventh consecutive FA Cup quarter-final thanks to a Scott McTominay goal.
The two sides cancelled each other out in 90 minutes, with Marcus Rashford missing arguably the best chance of the game in the second half when Lukasz Fabianski denied him from close range.
With United pushing for a winner in extra-time it finally came after a counter-attack and with the ball headed to Rashford by Thomas Soucek, the England man laid it off for an on-rushing McTominay to blast into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
United saw out the rest of the tie relatively comfortably and will be in the last eight of the competition once again.
It was another decent performance from the Scot, who has found some good form in recent weeks and has now matched Anthony Martial’s tally for the season.
It seems to be a new role for McTominay, with Solskjaer seemingly letting off the leash a little bit more and allowing him to break closer to the box more often. Being allowed to use his engine more and being closer to the box has seen him be able to use his great ball striking technique to greater effect too.
Defensively, McTominay is still a bit shifty. He isn’t the greatest when it comes to reading the game and often waits for far too long to close the opposition down or engage in a tackle. His skillset seems more accustomed to a box-to-box role rather than the holding midfield role we have seen him deployed in more often than not.
Fred had an absolute stinker in midfield during the game, with his pressing completely off and often misplacing passes that should have been relatively simple to complete. It was a real wonder that he was kept on the pitch for 90 minutes, as it was Nemanja Matic who was replaced as United chased the game.
Another disappointing performer was Donny Van de Beek, who got a rare start in the number ten role with Bruno Fernandes rested.
The Dutchman really struggled to stamp any sort of authority on the game and despite picking up some decent positions, he doesn’t have the aura around him that Fernandes does to demand the ball from his teammates.
It meant that he was often bypassed for the safer pass and meant his impact was minimal. He was substituted at the same time as Matic, with Fernandes coming on and instantly the team began to move the ball quicker and into more dangerous areas.
There was almost a feeling of a lack of trust between Van de Beek and his fellow teammates, whereas Fernandes has seemingly earned the status in the side that the team believe he can make something happen at any point and thus give him the ball no matter what.
With Paul Pogba out injured for the next few weeks with a thigh problem, this was the former Ajax man’s chance to stake his claim for a more regular spot but instead he showed many why Solskjaer’s decision to leave him out is justified right now.
Despite the poor performance, in a cup competition the result is always more important and progression to the next round is now secured. The Reds will travel to the Hawthorns on Sunday to take on West Brom and can expect a similar type of game, with their opponents likely to sit deep and defend for their lives.
United will need to be better than they were in this game if they want to break Sam Allardyce’s men down in that game and keep as close to Manchester City as they possibly can in the title race.