Manchester United beat Derby County 3-0 to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-final. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will face Norwich City at Carrow Road for a place at Wembley. Goals from Luke Shaw and a double from Odion Ighalo ensured that Wayne Rooney and his new side never caused an upset at Pride Park.
Manchester United Book Place in FA Cup Quarter-Final
A Comfortable Victory
United set their stall out from the first minute of the game. Solskjaer’s plan was to dominate possession whilst using clever movement to find pockets of space in behind Derby’s defence. The link-up play of Bruno Fernandes, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard helped this plan come to fruition. The trio lined up behind Odion Ighalo and caused Derby’s midfield and defence issues by interchanging positions frequently. This meant that each man was free of a defender picking them up, creating space to attack into.
On 33 minutes, Luke Shaw opened the scoring. After a couple of deflected efforts inside the box, the ball fell to the in-form left-back, who hit it on the half-volley. The ball looped over Kelle Roos and fell into the top corner. Eight minutes later it was 2-0. Shaw again was involved when he played a defence-splitting pass into the feet of Ighalo, who slotted home to double the lead.
Shaw’s performance was confident; a summation of his much-improved form over the last month or so. He found himself free on a few occasions when the young Jayden Bogle got caught out of position. The man of the match display and the goal involvements were a reward for his hard work.
Ighalo scored his second of the game with 20 minutes to go when he finished off a tidy move that he started. The finish was emphatic and is finding joy in his limited game time for United. It is three goals so far for the Nigerian who is flourishing for his boyhood team.
Solskjaer will be pleased that his side were so comfortable for the majority of the game. Rooney’s presence and a packed out Pride Park could have set the game up for Derby to win. United impressed with the way they took the sting out the game. Scott McTominay, although slightly tired, and Fred controlled possession effectively in midfield.
Wayne Rooney Leads a Courageous Derby Side
For as much as United dominated in parts, Derby did not let themselves down. They were happy to get forward and attack when they had the opportunity. Rooney and Max Bird sat at the base of the midfield, allowing Louie Sibley to roam free.
He caused United issues on multiple occasions, running directly towards goal and not afraid to shoot. Sibley’s effort from 25-yards was the first chance of the game, and probably the best until Shaw opened the scoring. His little touches and turns got him into some good positions, drawing a foul and yellow card from Eric Bailly. The 18-year-old put in a good shift and will have a bright future in the game.
Derby also impressed early in the second half. Martyn Waghorn was inches away from getting a goal on 50 minutes after getting on the end of a Bogle cross. Phillip Cocu’s side showed a lot of promise in their attacking intent, and the young squad can definitely be proud of their display. They managed to stretch United’s backline with their pace and width. Rooney’s experienced vision and an excellent range of passing allowed these quick transitions to happen. It wasn’t the result he would have wanted, but United’s record goalscorer will be pleased with the way his team caused issues for his old club.
Further Progress for Manchester United
Solskjaer’s side have now reached the quarter-finals of another competition, after reaching the League Cup semi-final. United are also in the last 16 of the Europa League. All of this is boding well for Solskjaer, who has faced criticism in the media this season for United’s inconsistent form. Add to this that fourth place is well in reach, and this season is set up to be a resounding success. If they can manage to win a trophy and finish fourth, Solskjaer has fulfilled his remit and has a great platform to build from.
Up next for Manchester United in this competition is Norwich City. The Canaries are fresh from their penalty shoot-out victory away to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur this week. They will not fear United, just like they didn’t fear Spurs. Daniel Farke’s side may be bottom of the league, but their expansive game can cause teams plenty of problems, just as Leicester City found out last Friday. It will not be the easiest game United will play, but they are now unbeaten in nine and will be feeling full of confidence.
The Manchester Derby is on Sunday and with United stretching their impressive unbeaten run, they are sure to fancy themselves to take all three points, especially at home.