Ten Hag praises 'magnificent' Casemiro after Man United book place in FA Cup fifth round

Brazilian midfielder scored twice in the 3-1 win over Championship side Reading

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag with Casemiro after the midfielder is substituted during the FA Cup fourth round match against Reading. AFP
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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag described midfielder Casemiro as "magnificent" after the Brazilian scored twice in the 3-1 win over Reading in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

Signed from Real Madrid last summer primarily to provide more steel and structure in the United midfield, Casemiro has demonstrated he is more than a destroyer, his double against Reading taking his goal contributions this season to nine, with four goals and five assists in all competitions.

"We know he's a great player and that midfield at Real Madrid, with [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric, it was great," Ten Hag said. "He's capable of [scoring goals]. We see him as a part of it offensively and he enjoys it as well, when he can come [into] it.

"Casemiro is magnificent. In front of the back line, always taking good positions, in and out of position. And he can deal with the ball, he can give the right pass. So, he can accelerate the game and if necessary, he can score."

Fellow Brazilian midfielder Fred came off the bench to score United's third, before substitute Amadou Mbengue headed in a consolation for the Championship side.

The victory continues United's good form, the only defeat in their past 11 games coming in the 3-2 Premier League thriller at Arsenal. Since then, though, Ten Hag's side bounced back to beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the League Cup semi-finals, and the Dutchman was again pleased with his team's display.

"The first 60 minutes was a really good performance," he said. "I think we totally dominated the game, we were composed in possession, with good moments where we accelerated. In the first half we had some good opportunities, some chances and also a goal that is a goal - I don't know why it was disallowed.

"Good runs behind them created a lot of opportunities, but also our transition from defence was really good. And there was only one moment before half-time where there was a lack of concentration. But before that, I think we created four, five, six really good chances where the only thing we missed was the finish. Then after half-time, very quickly it was 2-0."

Man United v Reading player ratings

United forward Marcus Rashford had the opportunity to break a club record for goals in consecutive games. The England forward was level with club legend Dennis Viollet in scoring in 10 straight games and thought he had made history against Reading but his goal was ruled out by VAR.

"Yes, it is a pity, and definitely for him," Ten Hag said. "With the disallowed goal, that is a disappointment, let’s say it is a frustration. He deserved that goal. We had to take him off because so many games come and we need them and want to keep them fresh. In the long term we need him."

United are back in action on Wednesday for the second leg of the League Cup semi-finals against Forest, and return to Premier League duty at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Updated: January 30, 2023, 7:54 AM