Manchester United ease pressure on Louis Van Gaal with routine victory

22 February 2016 10:23

Louis Van Gaal avoided further misery as Manchester United cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a routine victory at Shrewsbury.

Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard booked a home tie with West Ham after a comfortable 3-0 win at Greenhous Meadow.

They met little resistance from disappointing Shrewsbury who allowed United to dominate the game and never tested Sergio Romero.

Victory at Sky Bet League One Shrewsbury may have been a formality but it keeps the vultures off boss Van Gaal, who could have done without the potential banana skin with his position under increasing scrutiny.

In a week which could prove pivotal at Old Trafford it was one game ticked off with minimum fuss.

Progress in the Europa League, where United must overturn a 2-1 deficit to FC Midtjylland on Thursday, is paramount while any Champions League hopes could hinge on Sunday's visit of Arsenal.

They could not afford a shock and, ravaged by injuries, Van Gaal picked the strongest team available with Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Mata and Smalling all starting.

And for all of United's troubles this season they could not have wished for an easier tie.

Shrewsbury, in the League One relegation zone, had lost 10 home league games this term and their early struggles were clear.

Smalling headed over Daley Blind's corner before Depay ballooned two wild efforts over.

The Holland international then tested Jayson Leutwiler with a low snappy effort after 11 minutes as United probed.

Town were happy to restrict them to pot shots but, with a composed build-up, United were equally content to bide their time.

While a final pass eluded them, the visitors camped inside Shrewsbury's half as they controlled the game.

It took until the 28th minute to carve out a clear opening when Martial danced into the area and, after Leutwiler got a toe on his effort, Abu Ogogo headed the ball off the line.

As an attacking threat Shrewsbury were anonymous but defensively they held firm until United's pressure told and Smalling grabbed the lead eight minutes before the break.

Morgan Schneiderlin's header found the defender free in the area and while his effort lacked direction it deflected off Nathaniel Knight-Percival and bounced past the helpless Leutwiler.

It was hard on Shrewsbury's defensive efforts but they missed the appetite and drive to harm a United side who have been fallible this season.

And the visitors made it 2-0 to wrap up the game in first-half injury time when Ogogo tripped Martial and Mata curled in a delicious free-kick from 20 yards.

Game over, Depay shot wide and Martial deflected a header off target after the break with little sign of a recovery from Shrewsbury.

And Lingard made sure there would be no fightback when, on 61 minutes, he slotted in Ander Herrera's far-post cross after Romero set up a clinical break.

Mata and Martial were withdrawn with one replacement, Will Keane, striking the post with 16 minutes left but then limped off to leave United to play the final 14 minutes with 10 men.

And Shrewsbury almost capitalised in the final minutes when Joe Riley hacked Ogogo's goalbound effort away before the defender planted a free header wide and ex-United trainee Larnell Cole fired over in stoppage time.

Source: PA

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