Wayne Rooney scored an injury time penalty against Sheffield United to spare Louis van Gaal’s blushes and send Manchester United through to the fourth round of the FA Cup by the finest of margins.
In the third of six added minutes, Rooney stepped up and blasted the ball past goalkeeper George Long after Memphis Depay went down in the box following a challenge by Dean Hammond.
Rooney and his United teammates made a habit of scoring late goals for Sir Alex Ferguson and Van Gaal will be happy they still know how to dig themselves out of trouble at the end of matches.
This was not a victory United deserved. At times it seemed the home supporters inside Old Trafford were on the verge of an open revolt against their manager.
They cheered ironically when Matteo Darmian registered the hosts’ first shot on target in the 69th minute and thousands had already streamed out of Old Trafford by the time Rooney had scored from the spot.
The home supporters inside Old Trafford had every right to complain. Once again they did not get value for money from their players or their manager. Far from it. In truth, it was as bad a performance seen here this season.
Sheffield United began the day 46 places below the 20-time English champions in the league ladder. They have been beaten by Bury, Crewe and Colchester this season. Last week they lost 3-2 at home to Peterborough.
But the League One side never looked being defeated in this third round tie until Depay went down following an apparent trip by Hammond.
Van Gaal’s men mustered one shot on target in the match and they only came to life when their manager brought on Depay and Jesse Lingard with half an hour to go.
It was also the 10th successive home game that Manchester United had failed to score before half time – a damning statistic that demonstrates how boring the football has become at Old Trafford.
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