Manchester United proved too strong for League One Wigan Athletic as Erik ten Hag’s side moved into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Diogo Dalot fired the 12-time winners into a 22nd-minute lead with a fine curling strike after the impressive Marcus Rashford had a shot blocked.
Martial Godo failed to make a clean connection from six yards to waste a rare chance of an equaliser for the hosts before United secured the victory in the second half.
Bruno Fernandes won a penalty, with his foot clipped by Liam Shaw’s challenge, before the Portuguese midfielder got up to convert from the spot for United’s second goal.
The draw for the fourth round took place just before kick-off and Manchester United will play at either Newport County, 18th in League Two, or non-league Eastleigh – 11th in the National League and the second-lowest ranked side remaining.
Those clubs will have a replay next week after it ended 1-1 at the weekend in south Wales, with round four taking place over the last weekend of January.
United had 33 attempts, scoring twice, with Tickle doing well to keep the score down to just 2-0 and Ten Hag was content with the victory.
“It’s all about the win,” the Dutchman said. “In the first half the way we played, how we worked the ball and created a lot of chances, was pleasing to see.
“We should’ve scored more but the good thing is we created the chances. We have so many [players out with] illness or injured and we still had quite a good side.
“We were confident of winning this game and we would never underestimate an opponent. We knew they would fight for their lives as it was the game of their lives but we took the game well.
“This is a massive competition and everyone wants to win it, every manager is eager to win it so we took it seriously.”
The match was played in front of the first sold-out crowd at DW Stadium in more than 10 years, with Wigan, who almost went out of business in the summer before being rescued when local businessman Mike Danson bought the club, looking to cause the shock of the round.
The attendance of 22,870 was the highest at the ground since 23,001 watched Wigan play Aston Villa on 19 May 2013 – the Latics’ last match in the Premier League.
The home side nearly made a dream start but Thelo Aasgaard’s strike, with only the goalkeeper to beat, was superbly saved by Andre Onana in what could be his last match for United before he joins the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
That attempt gave the home fans hope of watching Wigan, 18th in League One, create their biggest FA Cup shock since beating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 1-0 in the fifth round at DW Stadium in 2018, also as a League One side.
The FA Cup is United’s last remaining hope of salvaging something from a tough season that has already seen them lose 14 times.
They are eighth in the Premier League, their defence of the Carabao Cup ended in the last 16 and a miserable Champions League campaign saw them not only finish bottom of the group but ended their involvement in European football before Christmas.
The importance of this competition was shown by Ten Hag naming his strongest possible line-up and his team then threatened to overpower a side 54 places below them in the English football pyramid.
Scott McTominay and Rashford failed to convert chances, and it was no surprise when the visitors went ahead through Dalot’s excellent curling shot.
Hojlund and McTominay missed opportunities as United should have wrapped up the tie before half-time.
Wigan, managed by Shaun Maloney – a member of the side that beat Manchester City 1-0 in the 2013 final for the finest moment in the club’s history – had to soak up a lot of pressure, but could have levelled had Godo adjusted his feet quicker when central, or if Stephen Humphrys’ shot had deflected into the bottom corner instead of going just wide.
But the Latics never looked like forcing an equaliser after that before Fernandes’ penalty clinched a deserved, much-needed victory for United.
Maloney said he had no complaints about the result or the penalty for United’s second goal, and added: “In terms of the effort, I’m very proud of what the players gave.
“It was a difficult match and United played very, very well and were a really tough opponent. We tried to be as aggressive as we could and we found it tough.
“We kept going and needed some saves from our goalkeeper. Manchester United had a lot of chances but I can’t criticise the effort of the team.
“When we played under pressure we showed some talent and some players had good individual performances. It’s never nice to get beaten but I hope we take something from it in the next few weeks.
“They are a really good team with the ball and their attacking players are some of the best in the Premier League.”
Source : BBCSports