Alexis Sanchez shone in a winning Manchester United debut on Friday after a thumping 4-0 win at the humble ground of lower-league Yeovil Town eased Jose Mourinho’s team into the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Chile international was named in the starting line-up just days after he signed for United from Arsenal in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and was involved in the build-up to the first two goals.
Fresh from signing a contract extension with United, Mourinho put out a much-changed side for the fourth-round clash in his 100th competitive match in charge but the visitors still had far too much firepower for fourth-tier Yeovil.
Sanchez lined up alongside Michael Carrick at Huish Park, with the veteran midfielder making his first start since September after he received treatment for an irregular heart rhythm.
It was the second time the sides have met in the Cup in four seasons and United were desperate to avoid an embarrassing slip-up against a side fighting for their lives in the bottom reaches of League Two.
Yeovil produced one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history in 1949 when they defeated top-tier Sunderland and although the competition has lost some of its lustre in recent years, Friday’s match had the feel of an old-fashioned tie.
United dominated possession early in the game but were unable to create many clear-cut chances despite a potent-looking forward line featuring the likes of Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata.
– Sanchez sharp –
Sanchez, wearing United’s iconic number seven shirt, looked sharp on the left side of the attack, drifting into central areas to orchestrate United’s attacks and taking some knocks from the rugged hosts.
Seconds after he shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area, he was involved in the build-up to the opening goal, releasing Rashford on the edge of the box.
Rashford lost control of the ball but a disastrous defensive mix-up in the home-side’s penalty area gifted the 20-year-old forward with a clear opening, and he made no mistake, giving United the lead five minutes before half-time.
The football was scrappy after the interval, with the rotated United line-up struggling to find attacking rhythm but they extended their lead with half an hour to go, with Sanchez again central to the move.
The Chilean carried the ball forward during a United break and fed Ander Herrera, who finished impressively with his left foot.
Substitutes Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku added gloss to the scoreline with a goal apiece in the dying minutes.
Elsewhere on Friday, Sheffield Wednesday beat Reading 3-1 in an all-Championship clash.
On Sunday, Pep Guardiola’s City, who remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple after reaching the League Cup final, have a tough challenge on their hands away to Cardiff, third in the Championship.
Chelsea face Newcastle in an all-Premier League fixture at Stamford Bridge on the same day, licking their wounds after defeat League Cup semi-final to Arsenal.
In another all Premier-League tie on Saturday, Liverpool host West Brom looking to bounce back after defeat to bottom club Swansea ended their 18-match winning run in all competitions.
Nottingham Forest’s reward for dumping out champions Arsenal in the third round is a trip to Hull.