The pressure on Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal was eased slightly tonight as the Red Devils advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Going into the tie at Derby County, van Gaal’s tenure as United manager was in serious peril.
But goals from Wayne Rooney, Daley Blind and Juan Mata ensured United’s progression, George Thorne scoring for the Rams.
United made two changes from last Saturday’s damaging defeat by Southampton, Mata starting ahead of Ander Herrera, while Guillermo Varela replaced the injured Matteo Darmian.
Derby boasted a few players in their line-up with Premier League experience, and also had Tom Ince, son of former United midfielder Paul, also took his place in the starting eleven.
United had the first chance early on, quick interplay allowed Anthony Martial a shot, but he blazed over the crossbar.
Rooney put the visitors ahead on 16 minutes, with the slightest suspicion of offside. He cut in from the left to curl a superb strike into the top corner.
It was 22 minutes before United keeper David De Gea was tested for the first time, producing a smart stop to deny Nick Blackman.
Eight minutes before half-time, and against the run of play, the hosts produced an unlikely equaliser. The ball was played over the top for Thorne to fire home.
Chances came and went for both sides as the second half became more and more open. United retook the lead on 65 minutes when Jesse Lingard’s cross was met by Blind to score.
Spaniard Mata made the game safe on 83 minutes after fine work by Martial, who caused Derby problems all night.
There was also a nice tribute from the 5,000+ traveling United fans. They chanted the name of former Red Devils defender Nemanja Vidic, who announced his retirement today.
By Steve Osborne @BlizzardSteve75