The Reds cruised past Cambridge to qualify for the fifth round of the FA Cup in what, after a brief early scare, turned out to be the easy victory Old Trafford had hoped for and expected. Only a tendency to be wasteful around the visitors’ area and some fine late saves from Dunn prevented a much wider margin of victory.
Despite that, United were almost behind in the first minute, Di Maria’s pass in his own half catching Blind unawares and the ball rebounding to Elliott who found himself through on goal. Fortunately the forward’s shot struck the post and went harmlessly out of play.
Other than that, it was pretty much one way traffic and there was little surprise when United took the lead in the 25th minute. McNair, who was playing some productive passes from the right back position, initiated an attack which ended with Fellaini nodding the ball across goal for Mata to pounce. Fellaini, playing in a forward position, was involved in the second goal which came quickly afterwards.
The Belgian optied to bring the ball down with his chest and shoot rather than head for goal, but from his blocked effort the ball found its way to Van Persie, whose ball back into the danger zone found the head of Rojo, who made no mistake from close range.
Although United were dominating possession and continued to do in the second half, there was a tendency to over-play in the final third. Chances were still carved out, however. Rooney’s volley from twenty yards stung the hands of Dunn in the Cambridge goal and Van Persie failed to capitalise on the rebound. Shortly afterwards Coulson’s head intervened when Di Maria attempted to curl a shot into the far corner after finding space on the right of the penalty area.
Although Smalling was forced to cover his near post with a diving error to thwart a rare Cambridge attack, it was United who came closer to adding to their total when Van Persie’s spin and shot in the area was well saved by Dunn. The visiting keeper then had to be on his toes to save a shot from Di Maria that moved viciously in the air.
By now Van Persie had given way and his replacement James Wilson wasted little time making his mark. His fellow substitute Herrara broke up play in midfield to release the striker whose left-footed shot gave Dunn no chance. Rooney almost made it four when his deft touch following McNair’s cross landed just wide of the post.
McGeehan almost grabbed a consolation goal for Cambridge late on, but by that point the game was long since out of reach and United had made their expected progress into the last sixteen.