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Man United beat Derby County 3-1 in FA Cup clash - Van Gaal can rest easy for a while

Published 29/01/2016

Manchester United's Dutch midfielder Daley Blind (C) celebrates scoring his team's second goalduring the FA cup fourth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park stadium in Derby on January 29, 2016.
Manchester United's Dutch midfielder Daley Blind (C) celebrates scoring his team's second goalduring the FA cup fourth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park stadium in Derby on January 29, 2016.
Daley Blind of Manchester United (R) celebrates with Jesse Lingard (35) and team mates as he scores their second goal during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match between Derby County and Manchester United at iPro Stadium on January 29, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
George Thorne of Derby County evades Jesse Lingard of Manchester United during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match between Derby County and Manchester United at iPro Stadium on January 29, 2016 in Derby, England.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game alongside teammates during the Emirates FA Cup, fourth round match at the iPro Stadium, Derby.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal (left) and assistant manager Ryan Giggs in the dugout before the Emirates FA Cup, fourth round match at the iPro Stadium, Derby.
A Derby fan holds a mock trophy ahead of the FA cup fourth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park stadium in Derby on January 29, 2016.
Louis van Gaal manager of Manchester United look on prior to the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match between Derby County and Manchester United at iPro Stadium on January 29, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
uan Mata of Manchester United warms up prior to the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match between Derby County and Manchester United at iPro Stadium on January 29, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal (right) inspects the pitch before the Emirates FA Cup, fourth round match at the iPro Stadium, Derby.
A Derby fan, dressed as a ram, waits ahead of the FA cup fourth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park stadium in Derby on January 29, 2016.
Wayne Rooney of Manchester United warms up with team mates prior to the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium on January 29, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Louis van Gaal is able to breathe a little easier after Manchester United made light work of a potentially tricky FA Cup assignment against Derby, winning 3-1 at the iPro Stadium.

The United boss arrived in the east midlands under heavy pressure and intense scrutiny after months of indifferent results, uninspiring performances and reports - denied by the Dutchman - that he offered to quit after last weekend's home defeat by Southampton.

His captain Wayne Rooney quickly settled the nerves with a superb opening goal after 16 minutes but George Thorne's equaliser before half-time might have had Van Gaal worrying again as Derby threatened to add their name to the list of lower league teams, which include MK Dons, Cambridge, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, to cause United problems in the cups under his tenure.

However, well-worked goals from Daley Blind and Juan Mata in the second half saw United progress in a much more comfortable manner than was perhaps anticipated before kick-off.

United, as they have in most matches this season, dominated possession early on in the fourth-round encounter. It was not quite the laborious fare often served up by Van Gaal's team in recent months, but United did not muster an effort at goal nonetheless.

However, they made their first serious attack count to devastating effect. Rooney looked marginally offside when he received Anthony Martial's pass on the left side of the penalty area but his curling strike was sublime, with the ball nestling right inside the far post giving Scott Carson no chance.

It was a rare moment of quality in the first half as both teams struggled in the final third, although Martial looked a threat and might have done better with his final pass on a couple of occasions.

Nick Blackman worked David de Gea with a header midway through the first half as Derby finally began to get a foothold in the game. But the equalising goal was as unexpected as it was brilliant.

Chris Martin chased down a loose ball and hooked a lovely reverse pass to midfield runner Thorne. His first touch to kill the ball just inside the box was perfect, it had to be with defenders in tow, allowing him to steer a half volley past De Gea after 37 minutes.

The second half began in much the same vein as the first, with United dominating and Martial looking menacing.

Blackman sent a curling shot narrowly over the crossbar while at the other end Martial and Jesse Lingard combined well but Mata directed his header, from Lingard's deflected cross, wide from just six yards out.

Mata made amends by playing a part in United's second goal. His pass set up Lingard whose low cross from the right was guided into the bottom corner of the net by the instep of Blind from just in front of the penalty spot.

The 65th-minute strike brought a rare display of emotion from Van Gaal who pumped his fists in celebration - perhaps even relief.

United, in front of their largest away following of the season, sealed victory and a place in the fifth round with seven minutes remaining.

Another mazy run from Martial saw him pull the ball back for Mata who brilliantly guided his left-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net - much to the delighted of the 5,460 travelling fans - and Van Gaal.

Belfast Telegraph

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