Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo netted a brace as Manchester United zoomed into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 win against Derby County on Thursday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Everton at the weekend, with Juan Mata captaining the side in the absence of the injured Harry Maguire.
Wayne Rooney was also captain for Derby after starting against the club where he spent 13 glorious years, with 253 goals for the Red Devils.
And with so many changes, it was always going to take time for this United side to gel together and it proved.
Derby began on the contest on the front foot, with 18-year-old Louis Sibley inches away from finding the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
United squandered an opportunity to go ahead through Ighalo after an error from Max Lowe after the Nigerian saw his effort beaten away.
But the visitors did finally open the scoring in fortuitous circumstances. After Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard saw their attempts charged down, Luke Shaw volleyed towards goal and it took a slight nick off Lingard before looping over Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos.
That goal seemed to take the pressure off the Premier League side and it wasn’t long before they doubled their advantage. This time Shaw turned provider by finding Ighalo in the box and he bulldozed his way past two defenders before poking into the bottom corner.
With a two-goal cushion, United were able to play with swagger and confidence in the second half as the game opened up, with Derby looking to find a way back into the game and Martyn Waghorn nearly found the answer, only to glance his header wide from Jayden Bogle’s delivery.
Into the last 20 minutes, United were comfortable and the scoreline finally showed it. Some good work from Juan Mata down the right allowed him to cut back for Ighalo, who saw his first effort blocked before smashing home into the roof of the net to make it three goals in three starts.
Lingard had a chance to end his long goal drought only to miss while Rooney saw a fine free-kick tipped wide as United cruised into the quarter-finals.