Manchester United cruised into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with the simplest of 3-0 victories over Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
Casemiro and Alejandro Garnacho both netted midway through the first half, before Anthony Martial’s strike early in the second half eliminated any doubt about a game which was truly one-sided from start to finish.
The true test for United, however, will come on Saturday as these two sides prepare to do battle in Premier League action.
How the game unfolded
Sofyan Amrabat, making his full debut as an emergency left-back, saw his name up in lights early on when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box, but there would be no 20-yard screamer as the loanee blazed his effort well over the bar.
The opening goal came around the 20-minute mark. Some smart work down the right saw Diogo Dalot drill the ball across the box and Garnacho did well to steer into the back of the Palace net.
Dalot stung Sam Johnstone’s gloves soon after, before an excellent challenge from Chris Richards was needed to deny Facundo Pellistri what looked like a certain goal. Unfortunately for Palace, the ensuing corner was comfortably headed home by Casemiro 27 minutes in.
Palace’s response was poor as United strolled through what remained of the first half, knocking on the door for a third without finding a way through.
The Eagles threatened to show a little more after the break but United quickly extinguished any hopes of a comeback as Casemiro’s deep cross was volleyed home by Martial.
Jean-Philippe Mateta saw a fierce strike well saved by Andre Onana midway through the second half but United never looked under any real threat after the interval and instead cruised through into the fourth round.
GK: Andre Onana – 6/10 – An absolute passenger aside from one nice save from Mateta.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 7/10 – Had very little defending to worry about and instead got forward with real energy and enthusiasm. Caused plenty of problems for Palace.
CB: Raphael Varane – 7/10 – Spent a lot of time on the ball trying to pull the strings from the back.
CB: Harry Maguire – 7/10 – This system allowed Maguire to fly down the left wing, looking surprisingly comfortable doing so.
LB: Sofyan Amrabat – 7/10 – In the first half, he defended as a left-back but spent most of his time in central midfield, before moving there permanently for the second half. Pinged passes across the pitch with real quality and ease.
DM: Casemiro – 8/10 – With no defending to do, Casemiro was allowed to focus on setting things up for the players in front of him. Some nice passing, a quality header for his goal and a nice assist for Martial.
RM: Facundo Pellistri – 7/10 – A constant threat down the right side. Always available for Amrabat’s diagonal passes.
CM: Mason Mount – 7/10 – Breezed around the pitch and linked up very well with those around him. Got the assist for Casemiro’s header and could have easily contributed to more goals before being withdrawn at the break.
CM: Hannibal Mejbri – 7/10 – Great quality on the ball to go along with a real willingness to track back and do the dirty work. A major asset to this team.
LM: Alejandro Garnacho – 7/10 – Not as active as Pellistri on the opposite side of the pitch but did take his goal well.
ST: Anthony Martial – 6/10 – Not as involved as the rest of United’s attackers but still took his goal well.
SUB: Victor Lindelof (46′ for Mount) – 6/10
SUB: Jonny Evans (60 for Varane) – 6/10
SUB: Dan Gore (60′ for Amrabat) – 6/10
SUB: Donny van da Beek (70′ for Hannibal) – 6/10
SUB: Rasmus Hojlund (75′ for Martial) – 6/10
Subs not used: Tom Heaton (GK), Altay Bayindir (GK), Jonny Evans, Donny van de Beek, Dan Gore, Bruno Fernandes, Rasmus Hojlund, Marcus Rashford
Erik ten Hag – 8/10 – Set his side up perfectly, watched United romp to an early lead and then found the time to focus on fitness. A perfect night for the boss, whose tactical mind was never really stretched.
GK: Dean Henderson – N/A – His dream return to Old Trafford turned into a nightmare as he limped off through injury inside the first 20 minutes.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne – 5/10 – Didn’t do a great job of dealing with Garnacho and, to a lesser extent, Maguire. Pinned back all game.
CB: Rob Holding – 4/10 – Couldn’t keep up with United’s forwards at all. Always looked uncomfortable when United started running at him.
CB: Chris Richards – 5/10 – Made an excellent challenge to deny Pellistri in the first half but definitely didn’t win the overall battle.
LB: Tyrick Mitchell – 4/10 – Constantly caught out of position as United exploited the pass down his wing time and time again. Regularly chasing shadows when Pellistri and Dalot came running at him, but calmed himself down after the break.
DM: Cheick Doucoure – 5/10 – Couldn’t get anywhere near United’s electric midfielders. Largely anonymous.
DM: Jairo Riedewald – 6/10 – One of the few Palace players who actually looked capable of making something happen. A few nice passes in a desperate attempt to drag his side back into the game.
RM: Jesurun Rak-Sakyi – 4/10 – Really quiet. Couldn’t get into the game at all and was regularly thwarted by Amrabat whenever he did get forwards. Unsurprisingly hooked at the break.
AM: Jeffrey Schlupp – 3/10 – Offered nothing in possession and his tame attempts at pressing as a secondary striker caused no problems for United whatsoever.
LM: Jordan Ayew – 4/10 – His poor defensive work contributed to Palace’s horrors down the left. Left Mitchell on an island at times.
ST: Jean-Philippe Mateta – 4/10 – Put himself about but never stood a chance in this setup. Forced to feed off scraps all evening.
SUB: Sam Johnstone (19′ for Henderson) – 4/10
SUB: Marc Guehi (46′ for Rak-Sakyi) – 6/10
SUB: Ebere Eze (60′ for Schlupp) – 6/10
SUB: Will Hughes (60′ for Doucoure) – 5/10
SUB: David Ozoh (80′ for Riedewald) – N/A
Subs not used: Joel Ward, Joachim Andersen, Ademola Ola-Adebomi, Malcolm Ebiowei
Roy Hodgson – 5/10 – Hard to be too critical of Hodgson, who was obviously prioritising Saturday’s Premier League clash between these two sides.