Shrewsbury Town 0 Manchester United 3
No giant was slain, no Goliath felled, but rather Manchester United strolled into the quarter-final of the FA Cup with an ease that made a nonsense of the idea that they are a club in crisis.
The stats told their own sorry story for the Shrews: United's 26 shots at goal to Shrewsbury's three, the visitors had 75 per cent of possession and eight corners to their hosts none. It really was a walk in the New Meadow for United, whose reward is a last eight match at home to West Ham United.
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The League One outfit tried their best to whip up the crowd of 9,370 into a frenzy prior to kick-off, invoking memories of their FA Cup third round defeat of Everton in January 2003. But it did the Shrews no good, with many of their side looking overwhelmed by the occasion and the presence of the likes of Juan Mata, Morgan Schneiderlin and Chris Smalling in their small New Meadow ground.
It was the England defender who put United ahead on 37 minutes, a scuffed shot finding its way past Jayson Leutwiler in the home side's goal for Smalling's first goal in the tournament.
Mata made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time with a free-kick and Jesse Lingard added a third on the hour mark after Ander Herrera's shot had been blocked.
By the end of the evening even the stattos were bored with the ease of it all, with Opta Joe reeling off the landmarks, not that there were many.
The win will ease some of the pressure on the shoulders of United manager Louis van Gaal, who said of the scoreline: "I think we have done it fantastically... everybody shall say it is against Shrewsbury Town and Manchester United has to win but we have seen very difficult results in the FA Cup, not always the top team is winning."
United now have two important matches in the space of four days, starting with the return leg against Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday and then the visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday. "[The Midtjylland match] in my opinion is a big game because it's a chance to qualify for the Champions League next season," said van Gaal. "But we have to win a lot of matches, of course. It's easily spoken about but doing it is different."
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