Manchester United 2 Reading 1:Nani return and saved Red Devils, Highlights match report / FA Cup News Video

Portuguese Nani went from car crash to FA Cup smash to keep Manchester United’s Treble bid on course.

A frustrating season for Portugal winger Nani took a turn for the worse when his Bentley was hit by an unmarked police car chasing a suspect in a Manchester suburb on Friday night.

Fortunately he was unhurt and last night he was doing the damage – giving Reading a real chasing to wreck their FA Cup hopes while serving a timely reminder of his talents.

The perceived wisdom is that Nani will be sold this summer to make way for Wilfried Zaha’s arrival from Crystal Palace – especially as negotiations over a new contract stalled long ago over his wage demands.

Perhaps a sign of how far his stock has fallen at United was that Sir Alex Ferguson did not even include him on the bench for the Champions League reunion with his close pal Cristiano Ronaldo Bernabeu in the last week.

It was only an injury to Phil Jones towards the end of the first half – he left Old Trafford on crutches – that saw him brought into the action last night.

But in his 50 minutes on the pitch he showed he remains a player with the ability to turn football matches, whether it is with United or whoever tries to buy him this summer.

If he could only add consistency to his game, there would be little doubt that United would want to keep him.

Reading – and goalkeeper Adam Federici in particular – had put up stubborn resistance for 69 minutes when Nani made the breakthrough.

He made full use of the time and space offered by the Reading defence to control Antonio Valencia’s cross with his left foot before dispatching a volley into the far corner with his right foot.

Three minutes later he supplied the cross for Javier Hernandez to head home at the near post for United’s second.

And though Jobi McAnuff pulled one back to ensure a nervy finale, United held on to secure a quarter-final home tie with either Middlesbrough or Chelsea.

Nani, so disappointed not be included against Real Madrid, has made a strong case for inclusion in the second leg next month and Ferguson admitted he has given him another selection headache.

He said: “He has got great talent and I had a feeling he would win the game for us. If he keeps that form up, it makes my job even more difficult.

“Some of the football we played tonight was terrific and we missed a few chances. But if you don’t score the goals you should do, and then concede one, then the last 10 minutes can be scary.”

Reading boss Brian McDermott said: “We gave them a real run for their money. In the last 20 minutes we played some very good football. My team have done themselves proud.

“We really wanted to put on a performance for our fans and we have done that. Now we can look forward to Saturday’s game against Wigan.”

This was United’s 39th consecutive FA Cup tie selected for live television broadcast – a run going right back to January 2004 – but viewers’ hopes of seeing a repeat of the incredible first half between the two teams at the Madejski Stadium in December did not materialise.

In that game there were seven goals in the first 34 minutes but last night all the drama came in the last 20-odd minutes of the game – thanks to the heroics of Reading keeper Federici and the defenders in front of him.

United fielded only three survivors from the team who drew in Madrid last week but Ferguson was more than satisfied with the efforts of the players who came in, especially Nani.

He served notice of intent within seconds of replacing the injured Jones when he fired a volley against the far post and saw another long-range effort saved by Federici.

Ferguson’s anxiety was underlined when he sent orders to the ball boys to speed up the return of the ball to help maintain United’s attacking momentum.

With Wayne Rooney in bed with a sinus infection, he also sent on Robin van Persie in a bid to break the stalemate.

But it was Nani who did the trick in a devastating three-minute burst when he scored the first and made the second.

To their credit, Reading refused to lie down. Adam Le Fondre forced a brilliant save out of David De Gea before McAnuff pulled one back to set up a thrilling finale.

In the end, Manchester United could have had more goals on the counter-attack. The Treble quest is gathering an impressive momentum.

Manchester United vs Reading FA Cup Match Facts

Manchester United: De Gea, Jones (Nani 42), Smalling, Vidic, Buttner, Valencia, Anderson (Carrick 84), Young (Van Persie 64), Cleverley, Hernandez, Welbeck

Subs not used: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, GiggsKagawa

Goals: Nani 69, Hernandez 72

Reading: Federici, Shorey, Mariappa, Morrison, Kelly, Karacan, Leigertwood (Guthrie 63), McAnuff, Le Fondre, Hunt, McCleary (Robson-Kanu 70)

Subs not used: Andersen, Gunter, Pearce, Daniel Carrico, Pogrebnyak

Goal: McAnuff 81

Referee: Andre Marriner

 Manchester United vs Reading match Video

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