LONDON – Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag had his first taste of FA Cup action on Friday and was pleased with an “entertaining” third-round clash as his side beat Everton 3-1 at Old Trafford.
In-form forward Marcus Rashford scored for the fifth straight game, heaping the pressure on Toffees boss Frank Lampard, whose side slipped into the Premier League relegation zone last week following a 4-1 home hammering by Brighton.
“I think the audience is the big winner of this Cup game. It was exciting to watch,” said ten Hag.
“A lot of tempo, a lot of opportunities for both sides and I am happy that we won this game.”
On Saturday, England’s Football Association said it will investigate alleged homophobic chanting during the game, which British media reports said were aimed at Lampard, who previously played for and managed Chelsea.
In a statement, United said: “Homophobia, like all forms of discrimination, has no place in football. Manchester United is proud of our diverse fan base and the work we have done to reduce instances like we sadly heard today.”
Everton added that homophobia does not have a place in “our stadiums, our clubs, our communities or our game”.
The Toffees made the worst possible start, with Brazil forward Antony scoring in just the fourth minute from a Rashford assist.
But they were level 10 minutes later after Conor Coady pounced on a howler from David de Gea.
The United goalkeeper could have used his hands but the ball somehow squeezed through his legs as he clung to the near post with one hand and Coady had the easiest of finishes.
However, the Everton defender put the ball in his own net early in the second half, again from a Rashford cross, to hand the initiative back to the hosts.
Rashford increased United’s lead from the penalty spot in the dying seconds to maintain his record of scoring in every match since the World Cup, where he netted thrice.
The England forward said the team were desperate to end their trophy drought, stretching back to 2017. “Hopefully this season we will get the opportunity to do that.”
His comments were echoed by ten Hag, who added: “It’s far ahead, we have to work on the team, we have to work on the progress, and that is the only focus point at this moment.”
The Dutchman also praised Rashford, saying: “If he keeps this focus, I am convinced he will score even more goals.”
The Red Devils, who won the most recent of their 12 FA Cups in 2016, are in fourth spot in the Premier League in ten Hag’s first season in charge and also in the League Cup quarter-finals.
It was their seventh straight win in all competitions, either side of the World Cup.
Lampard, admitting that his future was now not under his control, praised his men for their commitment. “It was a performance that every manager wants with the attitude of the team and our only focus now is Southampton (in the Premier League),” he said. AFP