Manchester United avoided an FA Cup banana skin to beat Cambridge United 3-0 in Tuesday night’s fourth-round replay at Old Trafford.
The home side were given a scare within the opening 50 seconds when a poor backpass from Daley Blind allowed Cambridge striker Tom Elliott in one-on-one with David de Gea, but the former Leeds United man couldn’t capitalise.
United then took the lead through Juan Mata’s close-range finish in the 25th-minute, before Marcos Rojo doubled their advantage just after the half-hour with a header from Robin van Persie’s neat chip.
Substitute James Wilson sealed the result on 73 minutes with a powerful left-footed shot from the edge of the area, with their reward for overcoming the League Two opposition being a trip to Preston North End in the fifth-round.
In a straightforward win, it’s no surprise that there were a number of standout United performers, but defender Paddy McNair might just have been the pick of the lot.
Starting in an unfamiliar right-back role, the Northern Irishman handled himself with impressive confidence, getting forward with aplomb to deliver a number of teasing crosses and shots.
Having made his first-team debut earlier this season, he has endured a few hiccups since, including being taken off in the 39th-minute of December’s 2-1 win at Southampton, but his FA Cup outing was another reminder of his undoubted potential.
Furthermore, after arriving at the club as a midfielder, before earning his senior breakthrough at centre-back, the 19-year-old’s versatility will be a huge asset to Louis van Gaal’s squad moving forward.
Fans were certainly impressed with his showing on Tuesday, with many taking to Twitter at the final whistle to hail his contribution to the win.
Paddy McNair for man of the match. No question about it IMO. #MUFC— James Lyons (@artofcletus) February 3, 2015
Paddy McNair is going to around for quite some time.Really like him #MUFC— Diane Dixon (@dizzydianajo1) February 3, 2015
Positive for #mufc tonight is rampaging Paddy McNair on the wing. Shows more desire to get forward than Valencia and Rafael.— Akhlaq Hanif (@Akhlaq1386) February 3, 2015
Paddy McNair was the best player for me. Composed and consistent. And a great outlet #MUFC— Tom Sherrington (@TomSherrington) February 3, 2015
I'd rather have McNair playing at right back over Valencia anyday #mufc— ManUtd_1993 (@ManUtd_1993) February 3, 2015
I am hoping we have struck gold with Mcnair at RB - with Rafael never fit and Valencia not natural in the position it could be huge #MUFC— Sarah Adams (@Mufc_Sarah) February 3, 2015
Now that Mcnair looks solid as a right back, hope Antonio Valencia warms the bench. His crossings are terrifyingly annoying. #mufc— ㅤㅤ (@tanvir10_) February 3, 2015
Paddy McNair was excellent at right back,passed the ball went,made good forward runs,More to come from him #MUFC— الياس (@ily_patel) February 3, 2015
Paddy McNair what a talent he is and will be and from good stock the future is bright #mufc— THE ONLY WAY IS UP (@shitfish1) February 4, 2015