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Manchester United rampant at Rams through Rooney, Blind and Mata

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 29, 2016

Derby County 1-3 Manchester United

  • Rooney scores stunning opener on 15 minutes at Pride Park
  • Thorne levels before half-time when found in behind by Martin
  • Blind puts Red Devils ahead again midway through second-half
  • Mata seals victory for United inside final 10

Red Devils school Rams

Derby County v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - iPro Stadium

Wayne Rooney’s sixth strike in as many games in 2016, plus second-half goals from Daley Blind and Juan Mata, took Manchester United past hosts Derby County at Pride Park and into the last 16 of the FA Cup, despite George Thorne cancelling out the opener.

Set on their way by skipper Rooney netting his 13th goal of this season across all competitions after a quarter of an hour, although there was a hint of offside, the Red Devils became the first team to negotiate round four of the world’s oldest knockout football competition.

United earlier wasted a glorious opportunity to open the scoring with Anthony Martial blazing over after starting an incisive move in the left channel. Marouane Fellaini’s strength and a clever Rooney lay-off teed up the France forward.

Derby mini-slump continues

Derby County v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - iPro Stadium

Championship big spenders County slipped to a third straight defeat, despite Thorne’s equaliser because of Blind, with Rams head coach Paul Clement unable to draw on his time working with Carlo Ancelotti in Paris and Madrid.

Derby looked in awe of their Premier League opposition at times, and their quest to return to England’s top-flight for the first time since that ill-fated 2007/08 campaign is now the sole focus for what remains of this campaign.

With proven second-tier striker Chris Martin cutting an isolated figure, the Rams will be hoping their expensively-assembled squad will give a better account of themselves in the coming months to ensure promotion at the third time of asking is achieved.

Rams leveller a Thorne in Man Utd

Derby County v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - iPro Stadium

Too willing to drop off and allow their visitors the ball, a more direct approach brought County level against the run of play. Martin’s ball over the top found deep-lying midfield runner Thorne and he fired beyond David de Gea to equalise eight minutes before half-time.

Nick Blackman also went close for Derby after Chris Smalling’s timely interception denied Martin a strike at goal. After the interval, the former Reading forward saw a delicious Cyrus Christie right-wing centre just evade him.

Mata’s flying header from ex-County loanee Jesse Lingard’s ball in almost restored United to the lead, but dropped just wide across the target. With 20 minutes of the second-half played, the Rams old boy helped to hurt them.

Second-half goals turn tie

Derby County v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - iPro Stadium

Industrious stuff from Lingard found Blind in the box, and Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal’s compatriot utility man shot past Scott Carson with such composure. Man Utd are now 11/2 chances with Coral to lift the FA Cup, and it remains their most realistic trophy chance this term.

Tom Ince, turning out against the team where his father Paul earned his ‘Guvnor’ moniker, flopped spectacularly on this big stage, having been schooled by United’s Uruguay full back Guillermo Varela, who made a rare outing.

With seven minutes remaining, a trademark slaloming run from Martial saw him pullback to Mata, who slotted home and put the result to bed. Plaudits go to Van Gaal’s youngsters, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson also catching the eye at left back, admittedly against Championship opposition.

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