Manchester United needed extra-time to beat West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the game, which was a tough watch…
United lacked directness
From the first whistle, Manchester United were the better team. But you have to make it count.
By half-time United’s dominance amounted to precisely zero shots from open play.
While West Ham defended resolutely and made it difficult, United should be used to this kind of approach from opposition teams and offer more of a threat.
The only first half attempt was from Victor Lindelof’s deflected header.
There were lively moments from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, but United had nothing to show for it, and in the second half it was no better, with the Hammers continuing to frustrate an uninspired United.
Alex Telles makes a decent case
It hasn’t been easy for Alex Telles sitting on the bench with Luke Shaw in strong form.
Telles put up a good case for himself here. He created three chances alone in the first half and had one shot which was blocked.
He also made a vital defensive contribution when Jarod Bowen broke clear behind the defence. Telles was quickest to nip in and rob him of possession.
Telles created four chances in total, more than any other player.
Telles was substituted in extra-time, and Luke Shaw did pretty well himself, playing a part in the move which led to United’s goal.
Van de Beek needs time
If you were hoping for Donny van de Beek to step in and make a convincing case for regular starts then you would have been disappointed here.
He needs to be more forceful in demanding possession, while United’s teammates must learn better how to use him.
The Dutchman made a number of good runs and wasn’t picked out. He is a player who is taking a little while to settle in, and games like this will help, even though we didn’t get the end product from him we wanted.
Mid-game management an irritation
United had five substitutions available for this game. And yet despite the game dragging onto a stalemate, Solskjaer was reluctant to use them.
It took until the 71st minute for United to make a double change, with Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes brought on.
Solskjaer may have been factoring in extra-time and not wanting to make changes too early. But if he went for it earlier, United stood a better chance of not having to play an extra 30 minutes.
Edinson Cavani came on in the 86th minute, without much time to get a goal in the 90.
Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams were the fourth and fifth substitutes.
McTominay the difference maker
Despite how long it took Solskjaer to make changes, of course one of the substitutes eventually made the difference.
Scott McTominay scored in the 97th minute after a knockdown from Marcus Rashford.
This is the third goal in successive games from McTominay, and he is now up to seven for the season.
That’s the same figure as Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial, which speaks volumes for his contribution.
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