Sunday, 18 February 2018
Match report: Huddersfield Town 0-2 United
The Reds had beaten David Wagner's side by the same scoreline last time out at home and avenged October's defeat at the John Smith's Stadium with a comfortable victory to maintain ambitions of a record equalling 13th FA Cup win.
Lukaku put the Reds ahead inside five minutes and then added his - and the team's - second ten minutes into the second half, in a match which also saw VAR (Video Assistant Referee) take centre stage. The technology caused confusion when Juan Mata's 'goal', initially awarded by ref Kevin Friend, was ruled out by Neil Swarbrick after a lengthy delay, with the Spaniard adjudged to be fractionally offside.
United were ahead after only three minutes through Lukaku, who demonstrated his blistering pace, power and strength when he burst into the box, turned Christopher Schindler and thumped home an emphatic finish after lovely link-up play with Mata - the Belgian's 20th goal of a prolific season. Tom Ince went close at the other end and Huddersfield responded well to the setback, before Collin Quaner's deflected cross was tipped over the top by Sergio Romero. Rajiv van la Parra headed straight at the keeeper and Florent Hadergjonaj's low ball in was almost turned home on the stretch by the onrushing Ince.
Phillip Billing tried his luck from distance but United then seemingly moved into a strong position on the cusp of the interval - only for the technology to intervene. A surging run down the right from Ashley Young found Mata, who rounded Lossl and tucked the ball home. But Friend called for a VAR review, being used for the first time in a Reds match, and - the decision was over-ruled with Mata in an offside position.
Despite the confusion, it ultimately did not matter as United put the result beyond any lingering doubt ten minutes after the restart with a classic counter-attack clincher.
Lukaku started and finished the move after a Reds break from a Terriers corner, as he collected the ball on halfway, fed Alexis Sanchez, received the return pass from the Chilean and slotted home with aplomb beyond the advancing Lossl.
Abdelhamid Sabiri headed over as Huddersfield bravely rallied, but United's front three oozed confidence and Lukaku almost got his hat-trick, but his shot was blocked by Schindler after superb build up that involved Mata and Alexis.
This was the first of three matches in three different competititons for the Reds which could ultimately define our season. Having assured smooth progress into the FA Cup quarters, attentions now turn to the daunting Champions League trip to Sevilla on Wednesday.
Overall team performance: 7/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Romelu Lukaku