Attendance: 32, 103
Manchester United showed their class at Pride Park and claimed a quarter-final place with some superb football but Derby County didn`t disgrace themselves and battled back in the second half when the game looked to be beyond them after Cristiano Ronaldo escaped at a corner to put the visitors 3-0 ahead. A quickly taken free kick caught the United defence out and Mile Addison scored with a downward header and for a fifteen minute spell The Rams caused their illustrious opponents some uncomfortable moments, most of them coming through Gary Teale down the left as Rafael struggled to deal with his trickery. Substitute Danny Wellbeck finished well to finally put the game to bed with ten minutes to go as United kept alive their hopes of a clean sweep.
Jordan Stewart came in for the suspended Jay McEveley in Derby`s only change with new boy Chris Porter again on the bench and having to wait for his first home appearance. United brought in Ferdinand and Evra at the back and Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs started up front together in a stronger looking line-up than the Carling Cup tie last time around. United showed their intent early on with quick feet by Ronaldo setting up Darron Gibson but he couldn`t keep his effort on target. Both sides were looking to move the ball around quickly and the pace of the game was high in the opening stages with The Rams looking to give the visitors no time on the ball.
Giggs and Park combined well to set up Fletcher who decided to hit his shot early as the defence looked to open up for him but Bywater saved well to his right to deny the Scottish international. Nani then worked himself some room down the left and chipped a ball to the far post where Park met the dropping ball but Bywater again denied the United man with a fine point blank save and the ball went behind for a corner. Nacer Barazite had Derby`s first shot on goal with just over a quarter of an hour gone but his effort was dragged across the goal and passed well wide of the target. Rob Hulse went close moments later when Paul Green headed a clearance back into the area but the striker couldn`t keep his effort down as he met the dropping ball and it passed a couple of yards over the bar.
Hulse and Commons exchanged passes on the edge of area before Hulse went down under a Ferdinand challenge but the referee waived play-on amidst the appeals. Ryan Giggs was prompting United well when dropping deep and the pace of their counter attacks was causing some nervous moments in The Ram`s defence. Indeed it was Giggs who fed Nani wide on the left in the build up to the opening goal; the winger cut inside and beat Connolly before firing in a superb right foot effort that gave Bywater no chance as the ball nestled in the corner of the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo then had a goal correctly ruled out for offside but the decision came in controversial circumstances after the linesman initially kept his flag down and the goal stood until prompted by the referee. In the linesman`s defence he didn`t seem to realise that Giggs had flicked the ball through to Ronaldo but it was certainly a strange turn of events. The visitor`s doubled their lead two minutes before halftime when a Ronaldo free kick was hammered into the wall but the ball broke for Darron Gibson to pick his spot from the edge of the box with a neat volley into the bottom corner.
The second half was only three minutes old when a Giggs corner saw the Derby defence fall asleep as Ronaldo escaped to score with a flicked header and give his side a three goal cushion. And it was almost four moments later when Fletcher and Ronaldo were both denied in quick succession by Bywater after some more neat build up play by the visitors.
Nani and Ronaldo then head efforts blocked inside the area before The Rams got a foothold back in the match on 56 minuets after winning a free kick on the edge of the United area. Savage quickly took it to Commons on the right who turned back inside before hitting a left foot cross into the box that was met by Miles Addison and his header was down and across Foster into the corner to give his side some hope. Gary Teale was beginning to see more of the ball down the left and a couple of runs had Rafael on his heels but the crosses eventually came to nothing after some hairy moments in the United area.
Chris Porter came off the bench to replace Hulse after 67 minutes as he made his home debut against the club he supports. The substitutes got himself involved straight away and he showed some neat touches to hold the ball up and feed Teale down the left and fellow substitute Sterjovski down the right. Another ball out to Teale on the left nearly saw The Rams pull another goal back with the winger cutting inside after beating Rafael again and hitting a right foot effort that Foster did well to turn round the post down to his left. The resulting corner found Addison who headed back across goal but the ball fell just the wrong side of the post although there was a man on the line covering.
United broke again to wrap up the tie with Giggs feeding Fletcher who found Wellbeck in the area and the substitute hit a curling effort back across the goal to give Bywater no chance and put his side 4-1 ahead. Stephen Pearson came off the bench to continue his rehabilitation and Paul Green had another headed opportunity that passed narrowly wide but United saw out the final few minutes fairly comfortably to earn their place on the last eight.
Made some outstanding saves and, despite letting in four goals, had one of his better days in the Derby goal. Kept The Rams in it early on but didn`t really have a chance for any of United`s strikes as they eventually sewed the game up.
Stephen Bywater 8
Paul Connolly 7
Jordan Stewart 6
Miles Addison 7
Martin Albrechtsen 6
Gary Teale 7
Robbie Savage 7
Paul Green 7
Nacer Barazite 7
Kris Commons 7
Rob Hulse 7
Mile Sterjovski 6
Chris Porter 6