Nani Lifts Manchester United Into F.A. Cup Soccer Quarterfinals

Nani scored one goal and set up another after coming on as a substitute as Manchester United beat Reading 2-1 to reach the F.A. Cup soccer quarterfinals.

The Portuguese winger, who replaced the injured Phil Jones in the first half at Old Trafford last night, opened the scoring in the 69th minute before crossing for Javier Hernandez to double the lead with header. Jobi McAnuff got Reading’s goal with nine minutes left.

United, which won the last of its record 11 F.A. Cup titles in 2004, will host the winner of the Feb. 27 fifth-round matchup between Chelsea and Middlesbrough in the last eight.

“Nani deserved his goal, his contribution was terrific,” United manager Alex Ferguson told ESPN. “I had a feeling he would win the match for us.”

Nani entered the game three minutes before halftime after Jones injured his ankle in a tackle with McAnuff. The winger struck a post with a 20-yard volley before forcing Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici into a save with a swerving shot.

In the second half, Federici denied Anderson with another stop before Nani got the breakthrough, driving the ball into the net from 12 yards after collecting Antonio Valencia’s pass.

Three minutes later, Nani whipped a cross into the near post and Hernandez headed home for his 15th goal of the season. McAnuff wriggled through United’s defense to make it 2-1 in the 81st minute and Adam Le Fondre went close to tying the match in stoppage time.

“It is always difficult to play against this team because they have a very good motivation to play against us,” Nani said of Reading. “The last minutes were difficult for us.”

Ferguson said the extent of Jones’s ankle injury will be assessed today. Premier League leader United visits last-place Queens Park Rangers in four days before facing Norwich a week later. The Red Devils then host Real Madrid in the return game of their Champions League round of 16 matchup on March 5.

“It’s an ankle injury obviously so I’d imagine he’ll not be ready for Saturday,” Ferguson said. “But we’ll see what he’s like after that.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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