Manchester United had to rely on extra-time to make it through to the FA Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday evening as they beat West Ham 1-0.
Scott McTominay’s goal in the first half of extra-time proved the difference in a game low on chances.
Here is how the national media reported the game, which saw manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rotate his XI during a busy fixture period.
‘Telles takes opportunity’
“The Brazilian evidently has ability – and a vicious left foot – but consistency has eluded him and, with Luke Shaw in the best form of his career, Telles has been unable to force his way into Solskjaer’s team on a regular basis.
“This was one of his better all-round performances.
“It was a Telles corner that created the chance Fabianski kept out and it was his surging run and cutback that Donny van de Beek badly miscued, drawing a frustrated slap at an advertising hoarding from the defender.
“Telles also had a fierce shot blocked and then, with the game entering its final 10 minutes, he curled over a superb cross that Martial headed wide.
“He was also decent doing the defensive work he is employed for, most notably showing an excellent turn of speed to prevent a threat on the home goal as he got back to rob Jarrod Bowen after Yarmolenko had sent his team-mate through.
“Telles did not reappear for extra time as Solskjaer changed both his full-backs, but Telles could still be pleased with his contribution.”
“David Moyes’ team – game as they had been – hadn’t had many over the course of almost 100 minutes of play. In fact United goalkeeper Dean Henderson did not make a save all night.
“But Declan Rice was actually in a promising position down the right early in the first period of extra time. He had a man breaking on his outside and West Ham had men in the middle waiting on the result of a rare overlap.
“But Rice inexplicably lost the ball. Maybe it was tiredness or a lack of concentration.
“Maybe – to steal a line from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp – his feet had just got too cold on this arctic Manchester night.
“Whatever the reason, Rice lost the ball to Luke Shaw and within 30 seconds United had swept upfield to win the game.
“This is what this United team can do. Even on nights like this when they lack cohesion and struggle to create chances.
“Even when they look a little too much like a side overly reliant on Bruno Fernandes, who did not leave the bench until midway through the second period of normal time.
“Yes even on nights when they play as modestly as this they can still hurt you. This is a United with youthful pace in it and that can take you a long way.
“This may one day feel like a big win in United’s season. On Tuesday night it merely served to illustrate that they can win games even when they don’t play well.
“It’s a decent habit.”
‘A difficult night for Van de Beek’
“The look on Donny van de Beek’s face said it all,” wrote Mark Critchley of the Independent.
“After 73 minutes spent toiling in the Manchester snow and temperatures dropping below zero with little to show for his efforts, he feared his night was about to be cut short. The sight of Bruno Fernandes standing on the sideline was a dead giveaway. The next thing he knew, his number was up.
“Tuesday night was a difficult night for Manchester United’s most expensive summer signing, perhaps the most difficult night of a debut season which has been challenging at the best of times. Van de Beek has had to be patient, wait for his opportunities to impress, then take them despite a lack of rhythm. This time, he didn’t.
“In Van de Beek’s defence, this was a drab, one-goal FA Cup fifth round win over West Ham in which no United player performed particularly well. Nobody deserved to be singled out, either for praise or for criticism.
“The thing is though, Van de Beek’s performances are bound to be subject to greater scrutiny than those of other United players at the moment. Of course they will be. Fans, journalists and other interested observers simply have not seen much of him in a red shirt at all, and especially not in his natural No 10 role.
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Manchester United beat West Ham 1-0 in the FA Cup, thanks to Scott McTominay’s extra-time winner.
United sealed a spot in the cup quarter-finals with victory over David Moyes’ side at Old Trafford, and now they travel to West Brom in the league on Sunday.
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“Van de Beek has spent his few minutes on the pitch playing in a number of different roles, whether that be as a No 10, as one member of United’s midfield double pivot or even out on the left-hand side of the attack.
“Which of these roles works best for him and for United? With only the equivalent of 11 full games under his belt, it is still far too early to say.
“There is one conclusion that can already be drawn, though, and it may help to answer that question eventually. Wherever Van de Beek’s future lies at United, he is clearly a very different player from Fernandes, with a different skill set and different purpose to fulfil.”