Manchester United swept aside Cambridge United with a 3-0 win this evening to advance into the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Juan Mata gave United the lead on 25 minutes but the team started slowly and really should have gone behind seconds from kick-off when Cambridge’s Tom Elliott hit the post.
It was a scary moment for United but Mata’s goal and a second from Marcos Rojo settled the nerves and they established an element of control before half-time. The second period was all United, and James Wilson eventually sealed the victory 15 minutes from time.
Before the match Mata warned United that they should expect a tough encounter against the League Two side and they almost went in front inside the opening minute through Elliott.
The striker, latching on to Daley Blind‘s error, was clean through on goal but slipped as he got his shot away. Fortunately for United, the ball curled onto the post and wide.
United settled following the frantic start to the game and got themselves on the ball, but struggled to create chances during a disjointed opening 15 minutes.
Marouane Fellaini took an unusual position up top for Man United and got onto the end of an early cross into the box but it floated harmlessly into the arms of Cambridge keeper Chris Dunn in an episode that typified United’s slow start.
At first glance, it seemed like an odd tactic for Louis van Gaal to put the big Belgian upfront but United grew into the game and it eventually led to the opening goal. Angel Di Maria started the move, running to the byline before standing up a cross that Fellaini nodded down into the six yard box. Mata was there ready and waiting to poke the ball in and put United in front.
The goal gave United confidence and Paddy McNair went close with a drive from outside the box before Marcos Rojo doubled the Red Devils’ lead with his first goal for the club. Again, Fellaini was involved in the goal, having a shot blocked from a corner before the ball worked it’s way to Robin van Persie. The Dutchman chipped the ball back into the box and Rojo was there to finish with a powerful header.
Cambridge had their moments and Ryan Donaldson fizzed an effort wide but Richard Money’s team failed to fashion themselves an opportunity as presentable as Elliott’s before the break.
United picked up where they left off following the interval, and immediately put the visitors on the back foot. Van Persie had a couple of presentable chances, including one from close range that he might have put away on another day, but failed to steer the ball on target.
From then on, the crowd at Old Trafford were treated to a fine Manchester United performance, one they had not seen in recent weeks. Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Fellaini all threatened to add to the scoresheet before Van Persie again spurned a good opportunity before being replaced by Wilson.
Ander Herrera was the next to come on, and the Spaniard made an immediate impact as he teed up Wilson to score. The win was an utterly deserved one for United, who momentarily dispelled memories of a tough few weeks. Van Gaal’s side will be looking to carry on the good form into the weekend, when they host West Ham United in the Premier League.