MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson lavished substitute Nani with praise after his man of the match performance helped the Reds reach the FA Cup sixth round last night.
The Portuguese winger, who reportedly fell out with Ferguson at the end of last year and has made just three starts for United in 2013, came off the bench to open the scoring and turned provider for Javier Hernandez to head in the second, before Jobi McAnuff ’s late goal gave Reading some hope.
Nani’s only previous goals this season have come in defeats to Tottenham in the Premier League and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, but Ferguson was happy to admit his winger changed the course of the fifth round tie.
“Nani’s contribution was terrific,” said Ferguson. “I had a feeling he would win the match for us.
“We played some great football and could have scored a lot of goals. I was satisfied with the quality of our game.”
United, who last won the FA Cup in 2004, lost Phil Jones to injury shortly before half-time, but his replacement, Nani, almost made an immediate impact with a fierce volley which came back off the post.
The 26-year-old teed himself up to fire United in front on 67 minutes and then crossed for Hernandez to head in his 15th goal of the season three minutes later.
McAnuff ’s close range strike set up a grand stand finish, but United resisted.
The Reds will now face Middlesbrough or Chelsea in the quarter-final.