LONDON – Manchester United overcame fourth-tier Cambridge in an F.A. Cup replay on Tuesday, winning 3-0 less than two weeks after a humbling 0-0 draw.
Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and second-half substitute James Wilson scored to send United through to a fifth-round match at third-tier Preston.
“I think that is our greatest chance to win a title,” United manager Louis van Gaal said of his team, which is third in the league and not in Europe.
Although Cambridge failed to match the “giant-killing” feats of Bradford and Middlesbrough, which knocked out Chelsea and Manchester City respectively in the fourth round, the visitors did have an early chance to score at Old Trafford.
After 50 seconds, Daley Blind slipped and somehow sent Tom Elliott through on goal. The striker, seemingly taken aback by the scoring opportunity at Old Trafford, just about managed to maintain his balance and bent a shot past goalkeeper David de Gea with the instep of his right boot.
Luckily for the hosts there was not enough curl on the shot, which hit the outside of the post and bounced to safety.
The 20-time English champions regained their composure, but the 4-1-4-1 formation seemed to hinder their ability to carve open the away defense.
Cambridge’s defense was finally breached in the 25th minute. Angel di Maria latched on to a clever pass from Paddy McNair and whipped a cross to the back post. Marouane Fellaini nodded the ball down to Mata and he stabbed the ball in off the bar.
Seven minutes later, the nerves inside Old Trafford eased further as the lead was doubled.
Fellaini’s shot was deflected into the path of Robin van Persie and the striker curled a short-range cross with the outside of his left boot to find Rojo, who headed in his first goal for the club.
Ander Herrera then drove at the Cambridge defense and laid the ball off for Wilson, who smacked a powerful low shot across goalkeeper Chris Dunn into the far corner.
The night’s other F.A. Cup replay saw Sunderland come from behind to beat Fulham 3-1.
Redknapp leaves QPR
London — Harry Redknapp quit Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday in a sudden move that could signal the end of the charismatic but outspoken manager’s Premier League career.
The 67-year-old Redknapp cited impending knee replacement surgery as the reason for unexpectedly relinquishing control of a team facing relegation.
“It means I won’t be able to be out on the training pitch every day,” Redknapp said in a statement. “And if I can’t give 100 percent, I feel it’s better for someone else to take over the reins.”