Manchester United vs. Sheffield United: 2016 FA Cup 3rd Round Score and Reaction

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2016

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring during the English FA Cup third round soccer match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Jan. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester United gave yet another lacklustre display at Old Trafford but produced an injury-time winner from a Wayne Rooney penalty against Sheffield United to prevail 1-0 in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

United's troubles in front of goal continued as they rarely created clear-cut chances and chased the win late into the game.

The Theatre of Dreams faithful gave moans of discontent through the contest, as the club's form continues to confound worried supporters.

United manager Louis van Gaal gave appearances to Matteo Darmian, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Marouane Fellaini, who started ahead of Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Morgan Schneiderlin.

Blades boss Nigel Adkins named an unchanged side to the one that started the defeat at home to Peterborough United, with striker Billy Sharp and Republic of Ireland international Conor Sammon spearheading the attack.

Sheffield United's English-born Scottish defender Jay McEveley (R) plays the ball as Manchester United's Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini (L) pressures during the English FA Cup third-round football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United
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The first 30 minutes were typical of the Red Devils' recent performances, attaining plenty of possession with little threat or verve. 

Wayne Rooney managed to skip past goalkeeper George Long, but the England captain hesitated when he should have pulled the trigger and allowed the chance to go begging. 

Football writer and United fan Liam Canning gave a comprehensive reaction to the hosts' turgid display in the first half:

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09:  Bastian Schweinsteiger of Manchester United takes on Billy Sharp of Sheffield United during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford on January 9, 2016 in Manch
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The tension from the crowd was palpable as they watched their team go through the motions, rarely hurting the visitors from the lower divisions. 

The Blades went close as they countered against their hosts, with Sammon testing David De Gea in the United goal with a fierce half-volley. 

Van Gaal's team had no intention of pressurising the Sheffield side before the half-time whistle, giving their opponents too much time to defend the space in front of them. 

The Independent's Mark Ogden gave his assessments as to why United are currently in flux:

Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News firmly pointed the finger at LvG:

Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal (C) arrives for the English FA Cup third-round football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in north west England on January 9, 2016.   AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF

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Van Gaal and Ryan Giggs looked downbeat as the referee blew for half-time, and United trudged from the pitch like a team with no motivation or creativity. 

The lack of noise from the home fans was damning as the players exited the field, as Blades supporters applauded.

Dawson highlighted a shocking statistic, as the glory days look well behind United:

Jon Super/Associated Press

United looked more positive in the second-half, as the south Yorkshire team sat deep and allowed them to advance. 

However, again, the Red Devils had few ideas with the ball at feet, with the likes of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera looking constricted in Van Gaal's system. 

Marouane Fellaini planted himself in the box and made a more prominent target for United, but the hosts failed to deconstruct their opponents. 

Bleacher Report UK felt sympathy for match-going United fans:

Sheffield United's Scottish defender Neill Collins (R) joins team-mates in remonstrating with referee Jon Moss after a handball decision was given against Sheffield United during the English FA Cup third-round football match between Manchester United and
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United picked up the pace on the hour-mark, but the improved territory for the Old Trafford team wasn't utilised fully. The Sheffield United fans sang in defiance as their team defended and the Red Devils advanced further forward. 

Van Gaal rolled the dice, throwing on substitutes Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard for the below-par Mata and Herrera, giving United more pace in the attacking positions. 

Writer Alex Hess was not impressed as the minutes passed, with United fans providing sarcastic cheering as the team created a rare chance through Memphis:

Dawson also highlighted the Old Trafford faithful's feelings:

Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal (C) sits in the dug-out during the English FA Cup third-round football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in north west England on January 9, 2016.   AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

The hosts looked desperate in the closing stages as the Theatre of Dreams became a vacuum of dissatisfaction and disappointment. 

Memphis and Lingard looked lively on the ball as they tried to drive forward, but a lack of chemistry was present across the whole of LvG's selection.

With the game in its final moments, Memphis burst past his marker into the area and was caught by Dean Hammond on his shin, prompting the official to award a penalty in stoppage time.

Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney (C) celebrates with team-mates after scoring from the penalty spot for the opening goal late during the English FA Cup third-round football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Traffo
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Rooney stepped up to take the spot-kick, and he convincingly buried his shot, lashing into the bottom left-hand corner.

The late 1-0 win flattered United, who struggled throughout the 90 minutes. Once again, the team looked clueless in Van Gaal's formation, but the addition of Memphis in the second-half changed the match.  

United continue to look a shadow of the football team they once were, but the FA Cup could offer LvG solitude in a difficult season for the Dutchman.

 

Post-Match Reaction

Van Gaal admitted his side were not at their best against Sheffield United, but was stubborn in his overall assessment, satisfied with the slim victory—as quoted by Bleacher Report's Paul Ansorge:

The draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup takes place on Monday evening, live on BBC One at 7.15 p.m.