Manchester United eased the pressure on under-fire manager Louis van Gaal after booking their place in the FA Cup fourth round with a 3-1 victory over Derby County on Friday night.
- Derby County 1 Man Utd 3
- Rooney breaks the deadlock
- Thorne equalises on 38 mins
- Blind fires visitors back in front
- Mata nets United’s third
The visitors claimed the lead after just 16 minutes through Wayne Rooney’s sublime strike, only for Derby to equalise through George Thorne in the 37th minute.
However, United regained control of the match after the half-time break, with goals from Daley Blind and Juan Mata securing what turned out to be a fairly comfortable win.
The Red Devils dominated first-half proceedings and made their intentions clear early on as Anthony Martial fired a curling effort narrowly over the bar in the third minute of play.
Derby’s first chance of note arrived on ten minutes, but they were unable to capitalise as Cyrus Christie fired a powerful effort directly at goalkeeper David de Gea, who managed to block the shot with his body.
Rooney was playing a key role in United’s build-up play and he very nearly lodged his first effort on goal in the 14th minute, only for his shot to strike the legs of midfielder Juan Mata.
However, he wasn’t to be denied two minutes later as he fired a curling effort into the top corner from 18 yards out after collecting a pass from Martial.
Having claimed the lead early on, United continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession without actually creating very many chances.
Derby, meanwhile, went close through Nick Blackman’s headed effort on 22 minutes, with De Gea doing well to get down and smother the ball on the line.
Martial had two chances to double his side’s advantage but saw his first effort saved before firing wide of the right-hand post on 36 minutes.
The Frenchman was made to rue those missed chances as Derby eventually woke their slumber on 38 minutes, Thorne converting from 12 yards out following a well weighted through pass from Chris Martin.
Their was more to come in the dying moments of the first half as Jesse Lingard shot wide from outside the box before Nick Blackman squandered a great chance for Derby on the stroke of half-time.
The second half started at a slow tempo and Derby created the first chance of note in the 52nd minute, Blackman firing high and wide from Christie’s inviting cross.
Juan Mata had two golden opportunities to add his name to the scoresheet around the hour mark, but headed wide from close range before firing wide of the mark from a tight angle two minutes later.
United continued to press forward and eventually got the breakthrough they were looking for in the 65th minute. Lingard slipped a pass into the path of Blind and the Netherlands international set himself before firing into the bottom-right corner from the centre of the box.
Derby briefly threatened to draw level in the 73rd minute, but Jacob Butterfield shot high and wide after being teed up by Abdoul Camara with a cross.
Butterfield was made to rue that missed opportunity as Mata added his name to the scoresheet in the 83rd minute, sending a side-footed effort into the bottom-right corner from the centre of the penalty area.
Mata’s goal was the last action of note as Louis van Gaal’s side comfortably saw out the remainder of the match.