Manchester United booked their place in the FA Cup fourth round thanks to a wonder goal by Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera and a late strike from substitute Angel di Maria, which secured a hard-fought 2-0 victory over League One outfit Yeovil Town.
The Red Devils endured a frustrating first half at Huish Park and surprisingly went into the break level with their League One opponents.
Louis van Gaal’s men were sloppy throughout the opening 45 minutes and failed to fashion a single clear-cut opportunity, prompting the United coach to throw on Juan Mata and Jonny Evans for Rafael and Luke Shaw at the start of the second half.
There was little improvement after the interval, but United took the lead with 25 minutes to play thanks to Herrera’s 20-yard rocket.
Di Maria added gloss to the scoreline with a clever dink in stoppage time, ensuring Manchester United will be in the hat for the fourth-round draw.
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Manchester United: Player Ratings
David de Gea: 6.5
Yeovil attempted to put the world-class Spaniard under pressure early in the match, but he stood his ground and produced a typically solid display in between the sticks.
Manchester United’s Brazilian right-back has only just returned to action following a recent injury lay-off and was substituted at half-time following a disappointing opening 45 minutes.
Chris Smalling: 6
The England international’s distribution was particularly poor but he helped Manchester United keep their clean sheet in tact with some reasonable defending.
Paddy McNair: 6.5
Suffered a nasty head injury in the first half but, to his credit, completed the 90 minutes - even if he did look a little uncertain at times.
Tyler Blackett: 6.5
Started at centre-back and finished the match at left-back. The youngster was never seriously troubled throughout the 90 minutes.
Luke Shaw: 6.5
Despite a reasonably solid first half, Manchester United’s £27 million summer signing was substituted by Louis van Gaal at half time.
Darren Fletcher 4
Michael Carrick has no reason to fear being replaced by the Scotland international for next weekend’s Premier League clash against Southampton. Not the same player, sadly, since returning from his serious illness.
Ander Herrera: 7
Put Manchester United into the FA Cup fourth round - and gave Louis van Gaal some food for thought in the process - with a wonder strike. This could be the moment that kick-starts his career with the Red Devils.
Wayne Rooney: 7
Busy throughout the 90 minutes but not a vintage Wayne Rooney display. He did, however, produce the pass which led to Di Maria’s goal in stoppage time.
James Wilson: 6
The Manchester United youngster was lively but, despite a few neat touches here and there, never looked like scoring.
Radamel Falcao: 5
Disappointing afternoon for the Colombia international. Couldn’t get himself into the game and looked in need of a rest following a hectic Christmas period. Hold-up play must improve if he is to secure a permanent contract with Manchester United.
Jonny Evans: 5.5
Header almost led to Yeovil taking the lead 10 minutes after his introduction as a second-half substitute. Solid enough otherwise.
Juan Mata: 6.5
The classy Spaniard’s introduction help calm Manchester United down a little.
Angel di Maria: 7.5
Cleared a header off the line after coming off the bench and scored a delightful goal in added time. Looks fit and raring to go after several weeks out injured.