Lingard and Lukaku sink defiant Derby
United show a lack of quality in front of goal before breaking the deadlock
Manchester United seemed destined for an unwanted replay before Jesse Lingard again took responsibility, scoring an 11th goal of the season with six minutes remaining, prompting Romelu Lukaku to seal the win at the end of normal time.
José Mourinho’s side had seemed unable to kill off Derby County as towards the close Marcus Rashford crashed the ball off the right post, Lukaku’s header hit the left, and Paul Pogba missed a sitter.
Yet Lingard’s swerving long-range shot showed them how to do it and so United move on content.
Mourinho made five changes, drafting in Sergio Romero, Daley Blind, Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Rashford.
Gary Rowett’s XI showed six different personnel from their previous match, with Tom Lawrence, Andre Wisdom, Alex Pearce, Sam Winnall, Marcus Olsson and George Thorne all selected.
United made a crisp start. Luke Shaw and Pogba moved the ball along the left. The Frenchman beat a Derby defender and switched possession to Lingard, who should have scored, instead lifting the shot high over Scott Carson’s goal.
Next up Ander Herrera rose well, but his header was similarly misdirected.
Derby were being given no chance to settle as now Pogba took aim with his left foot, this effort having to be watched carefully by Carson.
Yet following this flurry of chances the visitors did get on the ball and stroke it around a little. Lawrence, the No 10 in Rowett’s 4-2-3-1, broke up the middle of United and reversed play to Winnall but the centre-forward was stymied.
The contest had an attractive flow. Lingard and Mkhitaryan put Rashford in, and after a trick to create space the striker missed a glaring chance to open the scoring.
Mata’s free-kick was saved well by Carson to his right, and from the ensuing corner United found themselves back-pedalling. Mkhitaryan took this short, and suddenly Shaw was passing back towards the centre-circle. When the ball found its way to Johnny Russell, he coasted down the left and found Martin Olsson’s head, the left-back forcing Romero to tip over the bar.
As the half-hour approached United became sloppy. Mkhitaryan gifted possession to Derby, Winnall raced forward and the Armenian was fortunate to see the attack fizzle out.
The same was true of United’s initial momentum: their display had flattened and they were now vulnerable. The lack of ruthlessness that Mourinho can bemoan was evident when a Rashford glancing header from Mkhitaryan’s ball hit Carson’s left post.
As the interval neared United kept pressing. A Pogba free-kick drew “oohs” from the home support as Carson saved sharply to his right. Yet at the break the tie remained deadlocked.
Mourinho believed a change was required, so Lukaku, who missed the win at Everton due to a head injury, replaced Mkhitaryan for the second half.
Derby, though, made the brighter start. A Tom Lawrence free-kick from the right found Tom Huddlestone who was unlucky not to score with a shot.
From here United mounted a first attack of the period. Pogba and Lukaku combined, and when the latter lost the ball he quickly claimed it back. Up stepped Herrera whose attempt was deflected for a corner.
This enlivened United. Pogba dug out a route into Derby’s area and when the ball arrived at Mata’s feet he pulled the trigger and Carson beat the ball away.
Rashford corner from the left found Lukaku’s head, but he could not direct it, and the same player’s cross moment later was missed completely by Mata’s head. All of this illustrated a troubling lack of requisite quality in front of goal.
Old Trafford did, at least, raise the volume, which does not always occur here. United quickened the tempo yet a hint of desperation remained.
Pogba set off on a run that was halted easily by Derby and Mourinho made a second substitution, bringing on Anthony Martial for Mata.
Rowett brought on Matej Vydra for Winnall and Derby’s manager may have seen a credible replay move into sight. But, in the end it did not prove so.
Liverpool’s new ¤84 million signing Virgil van Dijk (left) rises highest to score the late winner against Everton at Anfield last night.