Giggs on the mark as United finish off Reading
MANCHESTER United eased into the fifth round of the FA Cup after a 3-0 victory at First Division Reading yesterday.
United booked their passage with goals from Ryan Giggs, substitute Paul Parker and Frenchman Eric Cantona - but not before surviving a number of anxious moments in the opening half.
The Elm Park tie was one of only three to beat the Arctic weather which decimated the fourth-round programme.
Fifty-five games in England and Scotland were called off - two short of the all-time record set on February 9, 1963.
Trevor Morley and Mick Gooding both caused panic in the United defence as Reading enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, but the Premier League giants took the lead against the run of play nine minutes before the break.
Giggs won the ball midway in the Reading half and released Lee Sharpe.
He skipped past a challenge in the box and although goalkeeper Nicky Hammond got a hand to his low cross, Giggs blasted home from eight yards.
United effectively killed the tie in the 56th minute with a fortunate goal from Parker.
The former England defender was booked within minutes of replacing Philip Neville - but was celebrating soon afterwards when his mishit cross-cum-shot from 20 yards took Hammond by surprise and squeezed in at the near post.
Cantona netted United's third from close range in the final minute after Sharpe directed Nicky Butt's cross into his path.
But Cup holders Everton and fellow Premier Leaguers Tottenham face tricky replays after failing to finish off First Division sides.
Everton drew 2-2 with Port Vale, while Spurs were held 1-1 by Wolves.
Everton looked to have snatched a last-gasp victory when Duncan Ferguson headed home in the 88th minute, but Ian Bogie was Vale's hero with an equaliser at the death with a deflected 25-yard drive.
Nigerian striker Daniel Amokachi had put Everton ahead in the first half, only for Martin Foyle to level with a superb diving header on the hour.
Two defensive mistakes supplied the goals at White Hart Lane.
Clive Wilson gave Spurs a 13th-minute lead when he took advantage of a terrible cross-field pass by Andy Thompson and burst forward to beat Mike Stowell with a low shot.
But Wolves drew level in the 28th minute through another defensive blunder when Don Goodman nipped in to punish a moment of indecision between goalkeeper Ian Walker and right-back Dean Austin.