Man United take down Derby to advance at FA Cup

BY foxsports • January 29, 2016

Manchester United made easy work of Championship side Derby on Friday evening, booking their slot in the 5th round of the FA Cup at Pride Park with a 3-1 win at the Rams’ expense.

FA Cup games continue across FOX this weekend with holders Arsenal meeting Burnley on Saturday (live, FS1, FOX Sports Go, 10 a.m. ET).

It was not the result fans of Derby County, one of the faded giants of the English game, expected. The Rams, sitting in a promotion spot in the second tier, happen to be led by the son of a former Manchester United legend, Paul Ince, and were thought to be a match tonight for the Manchester giants. Derby are not shabby – and the fact is United are a team in trouble, with manager Louis van Gaal allegedly on the brink. 

But, beaten badly at Burnley earlier in the week, with Richard Keogh particularly victimized in the 4-1 loss, Derby made a tactical error, instead bunkering back tonight and allowing United to pass the ball around at will. Fair enough against a team that on paper has far more talent, but it resulted in the Rams being so compressed that United were able to ping the ball about at will with predictable consequences.

Sixteen minutes in, Rooney collected a simple ball from Jesse Lingard, cut back and used Keogh as a screen to blow a bending ball to the top corner past Scott Carson. Cyrus Christie also did not cover himself on glory on the play, but Derby may have felt a measure of injustice: Rooney looked to be marginally offside on the goal, though it must also be added that Derby’s players did not protest the goal.

United looked as if they would collect a couple more before the break with Rooney and Anthony Martial combining well, and forcing Stephen Warnock into a brave clearance on the half hour, dangerously close to his own goal line.

Yet as has been the way of United this season, just as quickly as they found their stride, they were knocked off it. A long ball out of the back -- on a play started by the aforementioned son of a former star, Tom Ince -- found Chris Martin, and with both Daley Blind and Morgan Schneiderlin tripping over their own laces, George Thorne collected on the edge of the United area and whipped a goal into David De Gea’s top corner.

The goal visibly stunned United, and Derby kept their foot on the gas. United’s passing became sloppy, they seemed to lose sight of goal, and with the Rams threatening anew as the half ended, you got the feeling van Gaal was happy to get his team into the locker room. In truth, there had been little between the sides in the balance, and Derby manager Paul Clement probably wouldn’t have been too happy with his side’s play overall. For a half hour, they played like an away side at home.

But after the break, United started to edge back on top, winning a series of corners and causing chaos in the box. Martial in particular was a handful out wide, dragging the central defenders with him whenever he was on the ball to allow space inside for Juan Mata.

Yet it was the unlikely Blind, a defender, who finally restored United’s lead. Keogh was again the victim, nutmegged on the goal after Lingard left sub Razzagui Camara for dead out wide to thread the ball in for the Dutchman to bury at the near post. Derby never looked like recovering, and Martial then ended the tie with five minutes left to play, tearing Christie apart out wide again with a stepover that left the defender in a heap on the turf. From there it was a simple cutback to find Mata with time and space 3 yards from the net.

For United, this was a win that will do nothing to ease the pressure -- after all, they are expected to win every game. For Derby, the consequences are likely to be more severe. Considered to be the best team in the Championship, but not showing that mettle in the standings, the Rams look disturbingly short of confidence as they head into the most pressure-packed part of the season.

If United look less than they should, so do Derby. The difference, of course, is in their payrolls.

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