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A 93rd minute penalty from Wayne Rooney might have just saved Manager Louis van Gaal's job helping Manchester United squeeze out a barely deserved 1-0 win against League One Sheffield United, a side 47 places below them in the English football's current standings.
Manchester United managed just the solitary shot on target in the game, a tame effort from Matteo Darmian, and Sheffield United were good value for a draw that would have earned them a replay at Bramall Lane, but a late challenge from Dean Hammond on United substitute Memphis Depay inside the box after the Dutchman had shrugged off the attentions of John Brayford, and his exaggerated fall to the ground, helped the Red Devils earn a spot kick from Referee Jon Moss.
The game itself was a rather poor contest with Man United failing to score in the first half of a home game for the 10th straight outing. In fact it took 67 minutes for either side to register a shot on target, and that too came from the Blades' midfielder Basham, a poor effort with the ball getting ahead of him.
Memphis Depay's introduction did give Man United a boost with the Dutchman seeing a couple of efforts go wide of the near post after he came on and occupied the left wing, allowing Anthony Martial to go into a central role. The Frenchman too had a chance to seal a late win for the Red Devils, having a shot blocked by Brayford, who put his body on the line.
Sheffield United had worked really hard as a team, and despite seeing very little of the ball and rarely venturing out of their own half, they looked like they had done enough to earn a share of the spoils, but the Referee's decision to add 6 minutes of time at the end of the game, always meant that there was going to be a chance for the Red Devils late on.
Despite playing at the end virtually with 10 men with Bastian Schweinsteiger appearing to have done in his knee, United were on the front foot and Memphis, who had looked dangerous since his introduction, used his pace and treachery to earn United a spot kick, which ultimately sealed a place for the Red Devils in Monday's fourth round draw.
Today's win makes it back to back victories for Louis van Gaal's men after their triumph against Swansea City, and Man United fans will be hoping their side can go on a bit of a run now with an easy game in prospect in midweek against struggling Newcastle United, who lost today to Watford.
Manchester United: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Fellaini (Pereira 78'), Schweinsteiger, Mata (Memphis 60'), Herrera (Lingard 60'), Martial, Rooney.
Subs: Depay, Romero, Varela, McNair, Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Keane.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Edgar, Collins, McEveley (Reed 78'), Coutts, Basham, Hammond, Woolford, Sammon (Done 90+1'), Sharp (Flynn 63').
Subs: Howard, Flynn, Baxter, Done, Campbell-Ryce, Reed, Adams.
Final Score: Manchester United 1-0 Sheffield United (Rooney 90+3')
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