Less than a fortnight ago Manchester United were held by a resilient Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium, but such heroics could not be repeated at the Theatre of Dreams as thee home side strolled to a comfortable win in last night's FA Cup fourth round replay.
Kick off was delayed by 20 minutes to allow the 35 coaches full of Cambridge fans stuck on the A1 to arrive and they did so in their thousands, bringing with them a chorus of cheers.
United showed how seriously they're taking the competition seriously by fielding the most expensive team in British football history with it's value climbing over £200 million, featuring players such as Angel Di Maria, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Despite this there were no sign of nerves from Richard Money's men, who fielded an attacking side with an accumulative value of £0 and almost took the lead early on.
United overcame jittery start
It was the Red Devils who had the jittery start after a mistake from summer recruit Daley Blind left Tom Elliot through on goal, but his effort only saw the outside of David De Gea's post, and you could sense that they knew that there chance had gone, even after 50 seconds.
From there United were professional in their performance, completely shutting the door and not giving Cambridge another sniff. The deadlock was broken after 25 minutes when Marouane Fellaini, playing in a striking role that hasn't seen since his Everton days, nodded the ball down to Juan Mata who smartly kept the ball down to score from close range.
Direct approach took many by surprise
United have played a number of ways this season and last night's was a midfield diamond spearheaded by Mata, with Rooney and Di Maria either side of him and the focus was very much on wing play and playing balls into the box,
With that approach in mind it came as no surprise that the second goal of the half came from a cross and saw Rojo nod in to score his first goal for the Red's.
The scoring was completed when substitute James Wilson, who replaced a frustrated Van Persie to slot home past the stretching arm of Chris Dunn.
Star performer was young McNair
The performance was epitomized by young defender Paddy McNair, the 19-year-old academy member who before this season was unknown to most.
His first season in the senior squad hadn't had the best of starts after he was substituted in the first half against Southampton and then later dropped.
McNair started on the right hand side of defence last night, a new position for him, but it gave him a new lease of life and it was his forward thinking that pierced through the resolute Cambridge midfield that then lead to the opening goal.
Furthering this his general wide play was as good as any seen at United this season. He consistently got beyond defenders and forced corners right from the first whistle. He also showed composure when his volley that he took away from his captain was narrowly cleared. After his goal for the Under 21's the week prior, he clearly had a taste for it.
The second half was played at a much lower tempo with both teams seeming content, however that didn't stop McNair who as well as have no problems defending against the away sides occasional attacks continued to surge forward put crosses into the box.
After this display it will be good to see what is next for McNair as after this performance he deserves another go in the first team.
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