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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Derby Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals after a professional demolition of Derby at Pride Park.

Nani’s thunderous sixth of the season and a fine volley from Darron Gibson put the Reds in control at the break, before Cristiano Ronaldo’s bullet header made it three.

Derby, the only side who can claim to have beaten the world champions, got back into the game through Miles Addison’s header but never seriously threatened to complete an unlikely comeback and Reds substitute Danny Welbeck netted an exquisite fourth.

The Reds’ performance was all the more impressive given that it was achieved with a much-changed line-up. Sir Alex Ferguson made no fewer than seven changes to the side that beat West Ham, with Patrice Evra back from a seven-game absence and Jonny Evans also returning from injury alongside Rio Ferdinand in defence.

Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs were named as the two forwards with Ben Foster in goal, while Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov were rested from the squad entirely.

Gibson took up his preferred central midfield role and in the first minute he flashed a left-footed shot just over Stephen Bywater's goal.

That set the tone for a dominant display, in contrast to what the Reds had produced in the Carling Cup defeat on the same ground 39 days previously.

A flowing move involving Ronaldo and Giggs led to Darren Fletcher forcing Bywater into a smart stop, and a minute later the Rams keeper was called into action again to tip over a Ji-sung Park volley from an acute angle.

Derby hurried and harassed United in midfield but struggled to create any openings of their own until Rob Hulse volleyed a snap-shot just over Foster’s bar in the 21st minute.

United were in command and were rewarded just before the half-hour as Nani fired home an almost identical goal to the one he scored in the 4-2 win over the Rams last month. The ball was played from left to right through Gibson, Fletcher and Giggs to Nani, who cut infield and let fly with a trademark dipping shot that flew past Bywater.

It seemed for all the world as though Ronaldo had doubled the lead eight minutes before the break when he ran onto a delicious Giggs flick-on to slot home – only for referee Alan Wiley to rule it out for offside a full 20 seconds later after consultation with his linesman.

But it mattered little as United were two goals to the good just before half-time. Ronaldo’s 30-yard free-kick hit the wall, spooned up and Gibson smartly steered his volley from the edge of the box into the bottom right-hand corner.

Three minutes into the second half Ronaldo had his goal, thumping home a header from eight yards from Giggs’ corner from the right.

United were threatening to run riot and almost immediately Bywater made a good double save from Ronaldo and Fletcher after the Reds had carved the Derby defence open again.

That was the cue for Ferguson to bring on John O’Shea and Welbeck for Park and Evra. But the home side gave themselves a lifeline when an unmarked Addison neatly headed Kris Commons’ right-wing cross past Foster.

Unsurprisingly, the goal galvanised the Rams and Gary Teale’s pacy run almost created an opening for Commons.

With 20 minutes left another thrilling link-up between Giggs and Ronaldo led to the latter blazing over from 20 yards. That was the Portuguese’s last meaningful contribution as he was replaced by Rodrigo Possebon.

Teale’s arrowing shot forced Foster into a fantastic save low to his right – and four minutes later Welbeck finally killed off Derby’s hopes.

Fletcher played a neat one-two with Giggs before finding Welbeck on the left of the box, and the youngster curled the ball delightfully past Bywater.

It was the striker’s third goal for United and it capped a thoroughly satisfactory evening for Ferguson’s men, who completed a ninth successive win to march into the last eight.

Derby County Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Derby County [1 - 4] Manchester United
29' [0 - 1] Nani
44' [0 - 2] D. Gibson
48' [0 - 3] C. Ronaldo
56' [1 - 3] M. Addison
81' [1 - 4] D. Welbeck