Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to be more clinical in matches after the Red Devils took 120 minutes to find a way through West Ham to reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup on Tuesday night. Scott McTominay delivered a 97th minute strike on a freezing evening at Old Trafford to put United into the last eight.
Victory saw United reach the quarter-finals for the seventh straight season having fallen at the semi-final stage under Solskjaer last season. The 20-time Premier League champions were last victors in this competition in 2016 and have lifted the trophy 12 times in their history.
After a disappointing last-gasp 3-3 draw to Everton at the weekend left a puncture in United’s hopes of beating the in-form Manchester City to the Premier League title this season, United’s most likely route of silverware seems as though it may come via the FA Cup or the Europa League.
United were ultimately the deserving winners on the night despite a dull 90 minutes against West Ham. The hosts dominated possession and had 17 shots to West Ham’s three, the visitors managing just one on target across normal time and extra time.
But Solskjaer wants his side to work on their cutting edge, insisting they should have been out of sight far earlier on, just as he feels they should have been against Everton at the weekend before giving up the full three points.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the full-time whistle against the Hammers, Solskjaer reflected: “I felt we dominated. I thought we were in complete control of the first half.
“In the second half it became more of a game. When it’s only one nil and we are wasteful, anything can happen to us – we knew that from the last game [Everton].
“It’s just about finishing the game off but we’re through. We’re in the hat and that’s what we wanted.
“I think we got about 15 to 17 shots in the end but we need to be more clinical. We should’ve finished the game off earlier and finished in 90 minutes but sometimes it doesn’t happen.
“We needed to have a good result and a good feeling after today because we were low after Everton game. It’s hard to take but they were really focused and did the job.
“Of course you want to win every game. We want to challenge and we want to go to the final. That’s what we’re here at Man United for.
“Sometimes you’re lucky with draw in the cup – we haven’t been that lucky – but obviously we move another step closer to the final.”
On Scottish midfielder McTominay’s well-taken first-time finish, Solskjaer added: “Scott used to be a striker and I think he finishes with authority.
“You see that he doesn’t mind being in those positions. He just smashed the ball into the net.”
United captain Harry Maguire meanwhile insisted it was important for him and his team-mates to immediately get back to winning ways after the disappointment of drawing with Everton with a 95th minute equaliser.
The centre-back, who was named man of the match, said to BBC Sport: “I thought the performance was good. We could have been a bit more clinical.
“We dominated the game, especially the first half. We should have come in [leading] at half time.
“They had a little spell after half-time but we dealt with that a lot better than we did at the weekend against Everton and it was good, we felt we got the win that we deserved in end and that’s what we came in to do.
“Saturday night was very tough, we were so disappointed to concede with the last kick. We felt that we deserved the three points. The way that we conceded was disappointing.
“We showed great spirit and a great mentality to come back and perform here and get our heads back up. We know it’s a long season, there’s games every three days.
“It’s the best thing when you’re disappointed after you don’t win a game of football to have a game in two or three days’ time is perfect.
“Tonight was perfect. The games come so soon and the lads put on a good performance and it’s a good win. It’s important to go through.”
West Ham boss David Moyes, who famously managed United for a short spell from 2013 to 2014, said: “That was really hard to take because the players played brilliantly well.
“We lost a few players during the game and that was difficult. I don’t think we deserved to lose the game. We warranted the chance to go to penalty kicks.
“One of our centre-backs was on the bench and felt his calf in the warm-up. Before we knew it we had a few players out. We didn’t play well in the first half – we know that. But we were playing a really good team in terrific form.
“In extra-time we had one or two opportunities. I’m not going to look back on the goal conceded – I’ll look at how we played well. The level these teams are at, United have got a really good team.”
United will learn their quarter-final opponents when the draw is conducted on Thursday evening, though Championship promotion hopefuls Bournemouth join them in the last eight after eliminating Burnley, also on Tuesday night.