Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United side booked a place in the Emirates FA Cup fifth round, overcoming Unai Emery’s Arsenal 3-1 in a scintillating tie at the Emirates.

Goals from Alexis Sanchez, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial secured United’s progress but it wasn’t all one-way traffic.

Arsenal had the better of the opening exchanges; the home side broke quickly down the left following a United corner early on, but Kolasinac’s cross was easily cleared by skipper Ashley Young.

Emery’s side enjoyed a few intricate passages of play but took 24 minutes to test Sergio Romero, with Alex Iwobi shooting straight at the United keeper.

United were slow to get going in attack but were clinical when opportunities were created and it was former Arsenal star Alexis who opened the scoring. The Chilean – booed at every opportunity by the home crowd – latched on to a brilliant reverse ball by Romelu Lukaku, rounded Petr Cech and lofted a brilliant finish into the net when it looked like he might have taken it too wide.

Jesse Lingard doubled the lead two minutes later following a devastating counter-attack, Lukaku again providing the assist. United’s no. 9 made the most of the space afforded to him by the Arsenal defence, picking out Lingard who had time to take a touch in the box before coolly passing it beyond the reach of Cech.

Arsenal rallied in the final 15 minutes of the first half and reduced the deficit just before the break, through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aaron Ramsey shimmied past Eric Bailly in the penalty area and the Gunners’ frontman was there to tap in from close range.

The home side picked up where they left off in the second-half and could have equalised within a minute of the restart but for an excellent save. Ramsey was again involved for the home side, this time heading an effort towards the top corner from close-range. Romero reacted brilliantly to keep it out, pushing over the bar.

The first booking of the match came shortly after; Paul Pogba, leading the United charge, was pulled back by compatriot Laurent Koscielny in a dangerous position just outside of the penalty area. Lukaku stood over the freekick but couldn’t make the most of the opportunity, firing his effort over the bar.

That was the Arsenal skipper’s last involvement as he went off injured following an accidental clash with Lukaku.

The home side continued to threaten but Romero again kept them at bay, saving well to his left from a fierce Lacazette shot. Ramsey and Xhaka tried their luck from long-range, but it was United who got the decisive fourth goal of the game.

Substitutes Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford – on for Lukaku and Alexis – were involved as Pogba went on another driving run at the Arsenal backline. The Frenchman delayed his decision on whether to pass or shoot, eventually deciding to test Cech. The veteran keeper – who earlier this month announced he plans to retire at the end of the season – could only parry the effort out to Martial who fired home on 82 minutes.

Even though 10 minutes of stoppage time were added for the delay caused by Koscielny’s injury, the tie was effectively over at 3-1 and that’s how it ended, with United now looking forward to Monday evening’s fifth-round draw.

Ole: United looked more like a proper team

Speaking to BBC Sports after the match, Ole who made it 8/8 says:

“It’s fantastic to go through in the cup. It’s one of the hardest games you can get. I’ve had a headache since I came because the squad is full of good players. It’s up to us to pick the right tactics and players. We need to rest a few as there’s big games coming up. But we have fresh legs.”

He continues:

“Today we looked more like a proper team. We looked more structured. We’d worked hard at defending and counter-attacking. Counter-attacking is classic Manchester United – Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ji-sung Park – we’ve scored so many at Arsenal over the years.”

The interim boss concludes:

“Tonight was a big step forward. It was a massive improvement from the Tottenham game. It’s easy to get excited and talk about the future but we need to just keep working and think about the next game. We had to dig deep. The attitude and work-rate was important. Towards the end it was comfortable but not during the 90 minutes.”

 

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