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Feb 18, 2013

Jones hurt, but United escapes Reading

Sir Alex reflects on a strong win for Manchester United in the 5th round of the FA Cup

Manchester United overcame stubborn Reading resistance to book an FA Cup quarterfinal berth at Old Trafford following a 2-1 win, but the win came at the cost after Phil Jones was forced off with a first-half injury.

Jones was hurt after attempting to tackle Reading skipper Jobi McAnuff and it was obvious he was in considerable pain. Jones headed straight down the tunnel and it seems the man who helped subdue Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu faces a battle to be fit for the return on March 5.

The third goal of Nani's largely disappointing season and Javier Hernandez's 15th strike of the campaign saw the hosts through, although McAnuff's late effort ensured the Red Devils were never able to relax.

"We really should have punished them better," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I think when you analyze it we played some great football. We should have scored a lot of goals today. ... But I'm really satisfied with the quality of the game."

Jones' injury took the gloss off a victory that keeps United on track for a repeat of their historic 1999 treble, and Sir Alex Ferguson on course for a possible encounter with Rafael Benitez, whose Chelsea team must beat Middlesbrough for the right to face the Red Devils in the last eight.

A goalmouth scramble after just 90 seconds saw Hernandez's shot blocked, Danny Welbeck fluff the rebound and Antonio Valencia finally head straight at Adam Federici.

As it turned out, it was one of Federici's least taxing jobs. The Reading goalkeeper was also forced to deny Welbeck and Ashley Young had a shot blocked before the visitors got into their stride, with Noel Hunt to the fore.

Hunt sustained a nasty cut following a collision with Nemanja Vidic that required two shirt changes, but also set the pattern for a bruising collision between the pair.

Jones' departure seemed to spark the hosts into life. Nani's third touch following his introduction as Jones's replacement saw him strike the far post with a fine volley, while his fourth was tipped over by Federici's flying save.

Nani's introduction had undoubtedly been significant and moments after his effort had been repelled, he strode onto Valencia's cross and supplied a deadly finish. When Hernandez flashed home a near-post header on United's next attack, it appeared its work was complete.

Instead, McAnuff struck nine minutes from time to bring a familiar sense of nervousness to Old Trafford which only Andre Marriner's final whistle was able to ease.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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