By Richard Morgan
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976
Manchester United 2-0 Reading: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's winning start continues
Report as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes it five straight wins as United boss
Last Updated: 06/01/19 9:25am
Manchester United cruised past Reading 2-0 in the FA Cup third round to continue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's winning start in charge of the club.
United made the breakthrough after the intervention of VAR, when it was decided Omar Richards had tripped Juan Mata in the box, with the Spaniard converting the resulting spot-kick midway through the first half.
Romelu Lukaku then doubled the hosts' lead in first-half stoppage time - the striker's 13th goal in his last 14 appearances in the competition - to make it five straight wins for Solskjaer since he became United's interim boss.
Man Utd: Romero (7), Dalot (6), Darmian (6), Jones (6), Young (7), McTominay (6), Fred (7), Andreas (7), Mata (8), Lukaku (7), Alexis (6)
Subs: Fellaini (6), Rashford (7), Chong (7)
Reading: Jaakkola (7), Richards (7), Moore (6), Ilori (6), Yiadom (6), Kelly (6), Rinomhota (6), McCleary (6), Swift (7), Harriott (8), Loader (7)
Subs: Aluko (7), Barrow (7), Meite (6)
Man of the match: Juan Mata
As for the visitors, second bottom of the Sky Bet Championship, Jose Gomes' side have now gone 11 games without a win.
Despite heading into the clash in rude health after winning four Premier League matches in a row under the Norwegian, United were flat in the first quarter of the contest at Old Trafford, until VAR's intervention that is.
The home team had the ball in the back of the net thanks to Fred's neat finish, only for the video ref to check for a possible offside against the Brazilian.
However, while Fred was offside, Mata had been tripped by Omar Richards just prior to that, allowing the playmaker to score from the spot, the first time he had netted in the cup since against Crystal Palace in the 2016 final.
The tie was all but over when with just seconds to go until the break, John Swift gave the ball away and then Tiago Ilori tried to catch Lukaku offside, with disastrous consequences as striker ran clean through on goal.
Lukaku then rounded the advancing Anssi Jaakkola, before rolling home his 13th goal in the last 14 appearances in the FA Cup.
United rotated their squad, with Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku Sergio Romero, Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Diogo Dalot all recalled.
Meanwhile for the Royals, Tyler Blackett and Leandro Bacuna were suspended and veteran defender John O'Shea had to settle for a place on the bench on his return to Old Trafford.
Despite enjoying an eyebrow-raising 60 per cent of possession, though, Reading lacked the firepower to really trouble Sergio Romero in United's goal and the visitors will now return to the Madejski to continue their fight against relegation.
- Man Utd have lost just one of their last 52 FA Cup games against teams from a lower division (W44 D7), losing to Leeds in January 2010.
- Man Utd have won their five matches in all competitions under Ole Gunnar Solskjær so far - their longest consecutive winning run since January 2018 (5 games).
- Reading are winless in their last 17 games in all competitions against Manchester United (D4 L13), losing each of the last six in a row.
- Man Utd's Alexis Sanchez has been directly involved in 18 goals in 19 FA Cup games (9 goals, 9 assists).
- Romelu Lukaku has scored 13 goals in his last 14 FA Cup appearances, including six in seven for Man Utd.
- Man Utd's Juan Mata has been directly involved in 21 goals in 24 starts in the FA Cup (10 goals, 11 assists)
Man of the Match - Juan Mata
The diminutive Spain international was in sparkling form at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday, helping his side to easily progress into Monday's draw for the fourth round.
The 30-year-old was tripped to hand the hosts a penalty midway through the first half, which he coolly converted, meaning he has now been directly involved in 21 goals in 24 starts in the FA Cup (10 goals, 11 assists).