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Published: 22:24 | 29/1/16

United ease past Derby in FA Cup

Rooney strikes in 3-1 win

Manchester United produced a confident display as they comfortably beat Derby County 3-1 at the iPro Stadium to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup.

A superb opener from Wayne Rooney was cancelled out by an equally superb George Thorne leveller just before the break, but Louis van Gaal's men were not to be denied and second half strikes from Daley Blind and Juan Mata sealed a deserved victory and a place in the last sixteen of the competition.

Derby hadn't beaten Manchester United in the FA Cup since 1897, losing six times since then, but must have felt that this was a real chance to break that particular hoodoo, but it was not to be as United dominated possession for long spells and delivered one of their best performances of the season so far.

In a portent of things to come, United had the first opportunity of the match on three minutes when Anthony Martial fired narrowly off target from 15 yards following a slick move down the left.

They continued to dominate and were deservedly ahead on 16 minutes courtesy of a superb 20-yard curling effort from just outside the penalty area from Rooney which gave Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson no chance.

There was a suspicion of off-side in the build-up, but the goal stood and Rooney moved to within six of Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time record of 249 goals for the club.

Derby sat deep and struggled to make an impact for long spells, but were surprisingly level on 36 minutes when a sublime Chris Martin cross picked out Thorne who had drifted beyond the United defence and the midfielder volleyed past David de Gea from ten yards.

United were almost back in front within a minute, but Rooney just failed to make contact with Martial's low cross and Stephen Warnock was able to clear to ensure that the home side went in level at the break.

United continued to dominate the game in the second period and were back in front on 65 minutes when Blind stole into the penalty area to get on the end of Jesse Lingard's cross and finish from six yards.

Derby, on a poor run of form in the Championship where they have taken just two points from their last five games, had no answers for their Premier League opponents who were playing with plenty of intent and, refreshingly, were looking to get the ball forward at the earliest opportunity.

Mata sealed victory with the third seven minutes from the end, starting and finishing the move himself with a cool side-foot from seven yards.

His determination had prevented Cyrus Christie from clearing the ball which eventually fell to Martial.

The Frenchman delivered a low cross from the byline which the former Chelsea midfielder dispatched into the bottom corner to send United into the fifth round and ease the pressure on manager Van Gaal for another while at least.

By: Kieran O'Daly

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