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Nani propels United into Cup quarter-finals
Published : 18 Feb 2013 22:16:59Rss feed
Nani scored one and made the other as Manchester United beat Reading 2-1 to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals here on Monday.
The Portuguese winger was only brought on as a substitute because of a first-half injury to Phil Jones but he certainly made his mark with a powerful second-half strike before setting up Javier Hernandez with a pinpoint cross.
United will now face the winner of Chelsea and Middlesbrough in the quarter-finals as Alex Ferguson's side continue to challenge for trophies on three fronts despite a late scare when Jobi McAnuff pulled one back for Reading.
With the Premier League and Champions League still the main priorities despite a hunger to win the Cup, Ferguson made eight changes from the side that battled hard to earn a 1-1 draw in last week's European game against Real Madrid.
It was one of those changes who came close inside two minutes as Hernandez had a shot blocked by Adrian Mariappa inside the visitors' area before Danny Welbeck also found the Reading defender in the way.
United had come flying out of the blocks and Welbeck gave Reading keeper Adam Federici his first work of the night a minute later with a low strike that was pushed away.
The Reading keeper pulled off a good save in the 22nd minute to deny Tom Cleverley's low shot before getting back on his feet to turn away Ashley Young's timid strike from close range.
Jones, after his impressive man-marking job against Cristiano Ronaldo last week, could be a doubt for the return leg in March after injuring his ankle in a clash with McAnuff and Nani replaced him.
Nani then got straight into the action with a rasping shot that beat Federici before cracking off the post and flying away from danger.
The winger then forced the Royals stopper into a decent save in first-half stoppage time with a long-range effort.
United started the second half like the first with Cleverley trying to drill a low effort through a crowd of players before Reading cleared.
A deflected header from Vidic off Sean Morrison had to be cleared off the line by Reading striker Noel Hunt who was playing with staples in a head wound after a clash with the Serbian defender in the first half.
Reading were being pinned back as van Persie replaced Young before Nani whizzed one by the post in the 65th minute.
The Portuguese winger was certainly out to prove a point after not making the starting line-up and when Antonio Valencia laid the ball to him in the area in the 69th minute, he took a touch before rifling the ball home for just his third of the season.
Le Fondre fired at De Gea within moments but the tie was all but put beyond the visitors in the 72nd minute when Nani crossed for Hernandez who headed in at the front post.
With nine minutes remaining, Chris Smalling failed to clear a cross and McAnuff pounced to pull one back for Reading but they could not get a second to force the replay as Le Fondre headed a corner just over in stoppage time.
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