Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata combine to see off Huddersfield in FA Cup
Thanks to two superbly-taken goals from Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United advanced to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, the Belgian steering them to a 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town. The pre-match talk was all of Paul Pogba's absence, and the post-match talk threatened to be dominated by a disallowed Juan Mata goal just before half-time, controversially ruled out for offside after officials had reviewed video evidence. But Lukaku's quick thinking guaranteed that he would take the headlines, on what in the end was a comfortable triumph for his side.
Lukaku took most of the plaudits, but Mata and Alexis Sanchez were decisive when it mattered, and Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic put in strong performances in their defensive roles.
Some of United's passing on the break was a little imprecise, and they could have been more ambitious with their passing through midfield.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Jose Mourinho's team got the job done with what was ultimately plenty to spare, and he must be given credit for the early intensity which led to them taking the lead. He urged them to maintain that tempo throughout, and his use of Mata as a key playmaker was richly rewarded.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 7 -- Had to be very alert in the game's opening stages but was equal to all those challenges. Punched clear with authority when needed.
DF Ashley Young, 7 -- Unfortunate not to have a fine assist when Mata's first-half strike was ruled out. Worked hard and pressed high all evening.
DF Chris Smalling, 7 -- His passing out from the back could have been less cautious -- a common theme in his game -- but he applied himself well against speedy and sometimes elusive opponents.
DF Victor Lindelof, 7 -- Had a slightly tougher assignment than Smalling but cleverly marshalled his opposite man into less dangerous areas and played the ball out well.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Possibly the pick of United's back four. Defensively sound throughout, and enterprising in attack, unafraid to cut infield in the final third.
MF Michael Carrick, 6 -- Gave United good shape in midfield but did not dictate matters as he can at his best.
MF Scott McTominay, 7 -- Good industry as ever, with hints of a more expansive passing range, but could have been more perceptive with his passing on the break.
MF Nemanja Matic, 8 -- Cleaned up loose passes time and again, looking unhurried every time, and played the ball elegantly out of danger whenever it presented itself.
FW Juan Mata, 8 -- Touch and vision looked sharp from the start. Released Lukaku for the opening goal and took his narrowly-disallowed goal beautifully. Less incisive in the second half but found space throughout.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 7 -- His endless intensity had its reward in the second half when he played in Lukaku for the game's second goal. Short of scoring opportunities, but was constantly looking to make his own.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 9 -- Two finishes of the highest order, one where he bewildered his opposite man with quick feet, and the second where he cleverly plotted a high-speed counterattack. Fine hold-up play too. A consummate centre-forward display.
FW Anthony Martial, NR (for Martial, 75) -- Some fine footwork late on almost found him an opening.
FW Jesse Lingard, NR (for Mata, 81) -- Good defensive pressure as ever to help close out the game.
DF Eric Bailly, NR (for Lukaku, 90+3) -- The briefest of cameos gave the travelling fans a chance to welcome the popular defender back from injury.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.