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Wigan 0 Man Utd 2: Ten Hag eases some pressure and sets up potential FA Cup fourth round clash vs non-league minnows

A RELATIVELY straightforward night for Manchester United — it is not often you can say that.

Even in victory, it is rarely so at the moment.

Dalot opened the scoring with a wonderful curling effort

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Dalot opened the scoring with a wonderful curling effortCredit: Reuters
Dalot is creating a habit of scoring a wondergoal

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Dalot is creating a habit of scoring a wondergoalCredit: Getty

But goals here at the DW Stadium from Diogo Dalot in the 22nd minute and a 74th-minute penalty from Bruno Fernandes saw off Wigan to put the Red Devils in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

With Eastleigh or Newport awaiting, further progress should come.

They could even mask their difficulties in the league by getting all the way to Wembley.

Even the very best in Sir Alex  Ferguson did that over 30 years ago.
Still, Erik ten Hag was left to wonder how two was not four, five or six given the  chances they had.

United’s Dutch boss was certainly taking no risks. Not with the team he fielded or in the warning he gave them ahead of kick-off.
The Red Devils chief said: “Every game in the FA Cup, you have to play your best because every team is highly motivated.

“For them, it’s the game of the year, maybe the game of their life, so they will give their lives. So we have to match that.”

There are 54 league places between the two clubs, with United eighth in the Prem and Wigan 18th in League One — after an eight-point deduction after failing to pay players on time.

But the Latics know better than anyone the magic this competition can produce.

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Fernandes made it two from the spot

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Fernandes made it two from the spotCredit: Getty
The United midfielder roared in celebration

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The United midfielder roared in celebrationCredit: AFP
United completely dominated the game

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United completely dominated the gameCredit: The Sun

It was nearly 11 years ago that Roberto Martinez’s side — struggling against Prem relegation — met  Roberto Mancini’s expensively assembled Manchester City in the final.

Ben Watson’s last-gasp header won that one for Wigan, with current  Latics boss Shaun Maloney the man who delivered the corner.

Of course, 12-time winners United were in last season’s final but were second best to neighbours City, who completed the second step of their climb to the Treble.

Things have changed for Ten Hag since then. He went into this match with the pressure on and one of his new bosses Sir Dave Brailsford watching on from the stands.

 As he had been last time out when United went down 2-1 at Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.

So the strongest team Ten Hag could field was out there, roared on by 7,000 United fans that filled the stand down one length of the pitch.

Mind you, they were wincing after just three minutes when Wigan very nearly took a shock early lead.

Marcus Rashford struggled out on the wing against Wigan

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Marcus Rashford struggled out on the wing against WiganCredit: The Sun

Speedy winger Martial Godo was clearly out to give Dalot a rough ride.

 And when he broke down the right and crossed, Thelo Aasgaard was coming in at the far post to fire off a first-time shot.

Andre Onana has had plenty of criticism  but he deserved praise for denying the Wigan player here.

Sensing United were a little rattled, Wigan went for it again.

This time Sean Clare wriggled his way between two United players before a well-timed Kobbie Mainoo tackle in the box.

United dominated the rest of the half. In the 14th minute Fernandes flicked to Alejandro Garnacho but  the 19-year-old’s  shot was blocked.

 It broke to Marcus Rashford, whose effort was saved at the foot of the post by Wigan keeper Sam Tickle.

On 22 minutes United took the lead. Garnacho crossed from the right, Rashford had a shot blocked but the ball rebounded back to him.

Dalot put in a man of the match performance

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Dalot put in a man of the match performanceCredit: The Sun

He laid it off to Dalot on the edge of the area and the full-back  curled a fine effort through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner.

It could and should have been more for the visitors by the break. Rashford saw a shot squirm through the keeper’s grasp but he recovered with an outstretched arm.

Garnacho hit the bar from long-range — and was in fine form again. Rasmus Hojlund sadly was not, again.

He could not complain about the service when Garnacho crossed from the right on 29 minutes only for the Dane to head over at the near post.

Hojlund will have been thankful for the linesman’s flag as he missed an absolute sitter from close range.

From the restart Ten Hag’s Red Devils were out to make the tie safe.
Mainoo had a shot from the edge of the area saved.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Garnacho combined to set up Scott McTominay but his effort was diverted over.

A short corner routine finished with a Fernandes shot deflecting wide.

Hojlund drew a blank again

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Hojlund drew a blank againCredit: Getty

You wonder with United this  season  if the goal was about two foot off centre how many more they might score.

So many of the  chances they create are JUST wide and not enough are taken, not enough goals scored.

So situations like this become very tense.

Just like when, from a United  corner, Wigan won possession and Godo flew forward — it needed the speed of Mainoo to get back and block his final effort.

It needed a penalty for United to get that vital second when Liam Shaw was adjudged to have fouled Fernandes as he checked back.

The captain took it himself.

He ran up like he was going to knock the cover off the ball and then rolled it gently into the bottom left-hand  corner as Tickle went the other way.

Job finally done.

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