Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Manchester United lacked ‘rhythm and tempo’ in their last-gasp victory over Norwich City in the FA Cup quarter-final.
United were forced into extra-time by a resilient home side who were down to 10 men for the final 30 minutes. But the Reds secured their progression into the semi-finals at Wembley through Harry Maguire just as a penalty shootout beckoned.
Maguire, arguably United’s best performer throughout, showed great opportunism to strike home with his left-foot amid some uncertainly from Norwich defenders in the box.
Solskjaer made eight changes to his starting eleven, but rather than look energised with a fresh impetus, the Reds were lethargic and lacked any fluidity in their play.
“It is cup football for you, the game was not the greatest spectacle but I felt we kept the ball OK but did not threaten or create chances,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport shortly after the full-time whistle.
“I’m delighted to be in the last four and we got a good workout for many of the players. Nice for Harry Maguire to get the winner.
“Many of these players did not play the last game and now have 90 or 120 minutes in their legs. We have been drawn away every round so have done well to get so far.
“We did make many changes, we still think that the players who play 120 minutes are fit enough for Brighton on Tuesday. I did not make it easy for the players, we had two days to prepare for this game but the rhythm and tempo was not there but we have happy to be through.
“It is great to have the option to rotate. Anthony Martial came on and did brilliant but Odion Ighalo gives me a chance to rotate and he is a proven goalscorer and played his part in both goals. He is a great person to have around the dressing room too.”
Ultimately, Solskjaer will be pleased that he still has a great chance of lifting silverware in his first full-season as United boss.
The FA Cup semi-final draw will take place on Sunday during the half-time interval of Newcastle United’s clash against Manchester City at St James’ Park.