Manchester United made it difficult at Rodney Parade but secured a thrilling 4-2 win over League Two outfit Newport County in their fourth-round tie of the FA Cup.  

The English giants had raced into an early 2-0 lead inside the first quarter of an hour through Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo following a sharp start in South Wales.  

A rocket by Bryn Morris late in the half saw the tide of the tie shift dramatically leading into the second period, though the sides went into the break separated by just a goal.  

An immediate response by Will Evans saw the hosts impressively claw their way back from a two-goal deficit just minutes into the second half.  

The potential for a fairytale for Newport evaporated late in the tie when Antony latched onto Luke Shaw’s effort that bounced off the post to turn it into the empty net for his first of the campaign.  

Rasmus Hojlund secured passage to the fifth round with an instinctive finish in added time to see the Red Devils through, though the visitors had to work hard to beat a stubborn Newport side.  

Hojlund turned home Man United's fourth. (Photo by Dan Mullan via Getty Images)
Hojlund turned home Man United's fourth. (Photo by Dan Mullan via Getty Images)
  • Story of the game 

Newport's impressive 1-0 win over Wrexham at the weekend had seen them come into a historic tie in a confident mood, and boss Graham Coughlin was too as he chose to make no changes from the side that beat the National League title holders.  

Two weeks on from Man United’s 2-2 draw at Old Trafford with Tottenham saw five changes made by Erik ten Hag, and some former regulars return to the starting eleven.  

Andre Onana was absent due to obligations to Cameroon at the African Cup of Nations, whilst Marcus Rashford missed out with illness despite rumours of otherwise, Christian Eriksen and Jonny Evans made the bench whilst Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sidelined through injury.  

Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro made their full return each from long-term injuries respectively, whilst Luke Shaw slotted in at left full-back.  

(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Altay Bayindir made his first appearance for the club since his move from Fernabahce in the summer, whilst Amad Diallo was in contention from the bench. 

In a bouncing atmosphere at Rodney Parade, Newport had begun the game in an energetic mood, though that was quickly zapped by the visitors.  

A terrific one-touch move involving Shaw, Antony and Fernandes saw the Brazilian perfectly weight a cutback that the Man United skipper lash a precise drive into the corner to put the English giants in front.  

The away side’s early goal had put their tails up. Antonyfollowing his first goal contribution of the season, almost had a goal to match, receiving inside the box from Diogo Dalot before striking just over the top of the upright.  

Dalot was soon involved again. This time deadly when his pass was converted beautifully by Mainoo into the far corner to mark his first senior goal for the club, and to double Man United’s lead with 12 minutes gone.  

Young Mainoo celebrating his first senior goal for the club. (Ian Cook/CameraSport via Getty Images)
Young Mainoo celebrating his first senior goal for the club. (Ian Cook/CameraSport via Getty Images)

The visitors continued in a similar vein just five minutes later when a superb pass from Martinez to find Alejandro Garnacho down the left flank saw the Argentinian away before he chose to strike a vicious volley towards goal that came back off the upright when he probably should have squared to either Fernandes or Hojlund.  

The home side had their first opening inside 25 minutes played when Evans struck a well-hit effort towards Bayindir’s front post that was well held by the Turkish international.  

Antony once more went close to opening his account for the season when he was found free on the centre circle by Garnacho, though his first-time effort was brilliantly blocked by Newport skipper Ryan Delaney.  

Morris, meanwhile, dragged the hosts back into the game. Out of absolutely nothing, the midfielder fired a tremendous strike on the half-volley from 30 yards that was aided by a slight nick off the head of Martinez that gave Bayindir no chance.  

(Photo by Dan Mullan via Getty Images)
(Photo by Dan Mullan via Getty Images)

It immediately was game on again, whilst the complexion of the tie had changed in an instant with the visitors on the back foot.  

Man United almost restored their two-goal cushion right at the end of the first period. A lovely inside pass by Antony found Dalot inside the box before his layoff was struck well by Fernandes, though it was beaten away by Nick Townsend.  

It all in all was a competitive first half at Rodney Parade, where the visitors looked in total control with 35 minutes gone thanks to well-worked goals finished off by Fernandes and Mainoo.  

Morris’ long-range effort caught Bayindir out when Man United looked supremely comfortable, which kept affairs well in the balance ahead of the second period. 

A slight tweak by Coughlin that saw Newport switch to a four-man backline with Scot Bennett moving into midfield saw the second half begin in rapid fashion.  

A terrific out ball by Aaron Wildig that found Adam Lewis on the left saw the full-back slide a delicious cross across the front post that top scorer Evans poked home for his 19th of the season.  

Evans celebrating a historic equaliser. (Photo by Ryan Hiscott via Getty Images)
Evans celebrating a historic equaliser. (Photo by Ryan Hiscott via Getty Images)

It sent Rodney Parade into bedlam, and Man United and Ten Hag under immense pressure.  

Antony did terrifically well to keep the ball in play on the touchline before squaring to Hojlund. The Danes touch to Fernandes saw the Man United captain attempt to find the top corner but his effort was easily dealt with by Townsend.  

The visitors once more came close as they chased a third just past the hour mark when Shaw’s cross was poked goalwards by Martinez, though his effort was inadvertently blocked by Hojlund.  

Ten Hag was certainly thankful when his side restored the advantage with just over 20 minutes to go. Shaw again involved saw his curling effort bounce back off the post before Antony, yes Antony, produced a good finish on his right foot to put the Red Devils in front for the second time.  

(Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside via Getty Images)
(Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside via Getty Images)

The following ten minutes saw wholesale changes by Coughlin who saw the need for fresh legs. Lewis, Harry Charsley, Wildig and Bennett all made way for Lewis Payne, James Waite, Kiban Rai and Matthew Baker.  

Coughlin’s Dutch counterpart soon obliged with Casemiro and Shaw replaced by Scott McTominay and Willy Kambwala for the final phase of the tie.  

Hojlund finally got his goal in injury time after substitute Omori Forson’s effort initially parried by Townsend was turned home instinctively by the Dane who notched his third of the season.  

It ultimately secured an important win for Man United, whose hopes for a trophy remain on affairs in the FA Cup this season, where they are now set to face either Bristol City or Nottingham Forest in the fifth round.  

Newport now will return their attention back to League Two action when they host Swindon Town next weekend.  

  • Player of the game 

Fernandes fires the visitors ahead. (Photo by Dan Mullan via Getty Images)
Fernandes fires the visitors ahead. (Photo by Dan Mullan via Getty Images)

Fernandes in the end was the difference maker for Man United in a competitive encounter. His quality on the ball and in the final third oozed class, whilst the Portuguese was involved in all things positive for the away side.  

A terrific first-time finish to open the scoring saw the Man United skipper score his eighth of the season, once more proving his invaluable place in Ten Hag’s side.  

He so often tends to make the right decision in the attacking third, whether it be the final pass or the initial outlet, Fernandes remains critical to Man United as they look to add another piece of silverware under Ten Hag.