LONDON – Manchester United avoided one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history as the Red Devils beat a resilient Cambridge United 3-0 in their fourth round replay.
The League Two side, who were the lowest ranked team left in the competition, produced a shock goalless draw at the Abbey Stadium a fortnight ago to secure a money-making replay at Old Trafford.
And while they had their opportunities to claim a dream away victory against the 11-time winners, Tom Elliott hitting the post inside a minute of play after an early United mistake, the Premier League side were just too strong.
Louis van Gaalâ€™s men produced what has become a familiar lackadaisical display in the first leg, but after a frustrating opening they managed to find their rhythm in front of the Old Trafford faithful, as they cruised into the fifth round thanks to goals from Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and James Wilson.
Thatâ€™s not to say the hosts were at their best, with Van Gaal clearly instructing his side to lump the ball up for Marouane Fellaini, who was playing as a make-shift forward, rather than put their wealth of global talent to good use.
Cambridge started well, with a bustling performance which limited Unitedâ€™s creativity, but once the first goal went in, Mata hooking the ball in at close-range from Fellainiâ€™s headed knock-down, there was a real sense of game over for the fourth tier outfit.
A similar attack, the ball clipped into the area from out wide, saw the Red Devils take a 2-0 lead into the break, Rojo losing his marker to head home at an angle for his first club goal.
Cambridge rarely threatened after the re-start, and goalkeeper Chris Dunn did well to keep the score down with a string of really good saves to deny star trio Robin van Persie, Angel di Maria and Wayne Rooney.
Tiredness perhaps played a part as mistakes began to creep into their play, and the hosts took full advantage late on as substitute Wilson added a third with a sweet strike from outside the box to end the minnowsâ€™ brilliant cup run and seal a fifth round meeting with Preston.
The Lillywhites will host Man United at Deepdale after they came from behind to beat Sheffield United 3-1 in their replay clash.
The Blades took an early lead at Bramall Lane through forward Jamie Murphy, but North End hit back with three goals in a rampant ten minute spell.
Paul Gallagherâ€™s free-kick forced a replay in their original 1-1 draw, and the midfielder repeated his heroics with another brilliant set piece to level.
Paul Huntington then put the visitors in front with a header, while Gallagher wrapped up the comeback with a penalty to clinch a meeting with the Premier League giants.
Another top flight team also progressed to the fifth round, as Sunderland came from behind to beat Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage.
Huge Rodallega fired the Cottagers ahead in the first-half but the Black Cats were level after the break thanks to home goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelliâ€™s own goal, with Ricardo Alvarezâ€™s 75th minute strike and Jordi Gomezâ€™s penalty securing the win.
However, Sunderland fans may have to brace themselves for another battle to progress further as they face giant-killing Bradford, who knocked out Premier League Chelsea in the fourth round, next. – TalkSport