MAN UNITED 3, CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0
Manchester United booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup and a trip to Preston North End, but Cambridge United also left Old Trafford as winners.
The fourth-round tie and replay against the Reds has earned the League Two minnows a cool £1.5million, which was akin to coming up with the lucky numbers in the Lottery.
And such a financial windfall will prove invaluable to a club like Cambridge who not long ago teetered on the edge of oblivion. It was also fitting they are managed by a man called Money as Richard has sometimes been referred to as Dickie Dosh.
First-half goals from Juan Mata and Marcos Rojo set United on the road to victory after the U’s almost snatched what would have been an amazing first-minute lead had Tom Elliott not been denied by the woodwork.
Substitute James Wilson made absolutely certain of victory 17 minutes from the end when he scored United’s third goal.
It was a satisfactory rather than spectacular performance from the Reds whose manager Louis van Gaal admitted his side was in a no-win situation.
He said: “Everybody expected us to be winning. And when we are winning, they expect it to be by a higher figure.
“I am pleased to have won 3-0 and to have kept a clean sheet, and we are in the next round.”
The Dutchman criticised his side for giving away the ball too much in the opening period, but thought they played better in the second period.
And he has no qualms about playing lower-league opponents again in the fifth round.
He continued: “I prefer to play lower teams because the possibilities to survive are greater, though sometimes it is more difficult to win against lower teams than big teams.
“I am pleased as you have to beat your opponents and are in the next round, and if you beat them, and in the end you are cup winners and I am very happy.
“We have a real chance to win the cup because of our status as the highest qualified team still in the competition, though Arsenal are also still in.”
United made five changes from the side which beat Leicester City, but they still fielded a formidable starting line up as Robin van Persie and Marouane Fellaini were the front two while Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria, Mata and Daley Blind packed the midfield.
Yet it was the U’s, with former Red Luke Chadwick in their starting line up, who almost stole a march on their illustrious opponents when they came close to snatching the lead after only 49 seconds.
Blind’s wayward pass was intercepted by striker Elliott who burst clean trough on goal but the former Leeds United player struck the upright with only David De Gea to beat as glory beckoned.
Rooney had a couple of early strikes at goal, but nothing to trouble keeper Chris Dunn.
United made the breakthrough in the 25th minute when Di Maria crossed from the left to the far post, Fellaini headed back across goal and Mata shot into the roof of the net from three yards for his sixth goal of the season. It had taken United 115 minutes to find a way through the League Two defence.
That was soon followed by a second as van Persie provided the assist with a cross for Rojo to head home his first goal for the Reds from six yards.
The second half was decidedly low key, though United had chances to increase their lead through Rooney, van Persie and notably Di Maria whose shot was spectacularly turned over by keeper Dunn.
A third goal finally arrived in the 73rd minute, and from an unlikely source as Wilson found the net only seven minutes after replacing van Persie as he fired home from the edge of the box low to the left of Dunn, his second goal of the campaign.
The U’s came agonisingly close to scoring an injury time consolation goal their efforts deserved, but Cameron McGeehan saws his shot flash just wide of the upright.