Your Monday Briefing: Nine talking points for Reds
Catch up on the latest Manchester United news from the weekend via Your Monday Briefing...
That was the score in Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at the John Smith’s Stadium, where Romelu Lukaku scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season to secure an important win for the Reds. The Belgian striker was voted Man of the Match by followers of @ManUtd on Twitter, earning a massive 81 per cent of votes to beat fellow nominees Chris Smalling and Scott McTominay.
2: OUR FIRST USE OF VAR
The much-discussed Video Assistant Referee was used for the first time in a United fixture and, unfortunately, it resulted in controversy after Juan Mata’s strike was rather harshly disallowed for offside following a stoppage of several minutes. The Spaniard was typically professional afterwards, telling MUTV:
“I’m up for VAR and I think it is good for football, especially to make important decisions and make it a little bit fairer, but it seems like today it was not very clear the decision was against us and me,”he said.
“The good thing was that it was not needed because we won anyway.”
Goals: Huddersfield 0 United 2Video
Mata: I like VAR but it can be betterVideo
A huge positive from the weekend is Eric’s return from injury, after the Ivory Coast international stepped off the bench late in the second half to make his first United appearance since the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea on 5 November. Via his official Twitter account, the former Villarreal defender posted:
“Happy for having qualified for the quarter finals and happy to be back.”
Brighton & Hove Albion were pulled out of the hat following Saturday’s final whistle and the quarter-final tie will be played at Old Trafford between 16 and 19 March, which means our Premier League game against West Ham United – previously set for Sunday 18 March - will now be rescheduled.
5: POGBA MISSED OUT WITH ILLNESS
Paul did not feature at Huddersfield due to illness and it remains to be seen whether the Frenchman will be fit for this week’s UEFA Champions League tie at Sevilla. His absence at the weekend was positive, however, for young Academy midfielder Ethan Hamilton, who was included in a senior squad for the first time in his career. The Scottish midfielder was an unused substitute in the no.48 shirt and he later tweeted:
“Amazing experience travelling with the first team and being on the bench today!!”
Hamilton and Ricky Sbragia’s Under-23s suffered a disappointing 4-0 defeat at Leigh Sports Village on Friday night, when Juan Castillo, Kylian Hazard, Reece James and Harvey St Clair all got on the scoresheet for the clinical visitors, culminating in a night to forget for the young Reds.
7: FIVE LOAN STARS IN ACTION
Sam Johnstone and Axel Tuanzebe started for Aston Villa but could not prevent a 2-0 defeat to Fulham in the Championship. James Wilson also played for Sheffield United but was substituted at half time of their 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Leicester City, while, in Scotland, Demetri Mitchell made his seventh appearance for Hearts in a 1-1 draw at Ross County and Matty Willock was a 65th-minute substitute during St Johnstone’s 0-0 draw at Celtic. Tim Fosu-Mensah's Crystal Palace did not have a fixture, while Andreas Pereira and Charlie Scott did not play for Valencia and Hamilton respectively.
Our opponents in the Champions League last-16 secured a 2-1 win at Las Palmas, thanks to goals from Wissam Yedder and Pablo Sarabia (Jonathan Calleri scored a late penalty for the hosts). The victory has left them fifth in La Liga and sixth points behind Real Madrid, who have a game in hand.
9: A WARNING FROM JESUS
Sevilla’s ex-Manchester City winger, Jesus Navas, has warned United not to underestimate his team-mates in this Round of 16 tie, telling the press over the weekend:
“For us, it’s all about getting through to the next round. But I know it would be nice for some of the friends I’ve got back in Manchester if we did manage to pull it off and knock out United. If people underestimate us, they should look at what we’re doing at the moment, our performances, the fact we’ve got to a final already and we’re still in all of the competitions. We’re a great side and we can achieve things.”