term, but Rafael, Smalling, Evans and Evra earned a third clean sheet in a row. United still haven't conceded in the competition this season.
Opposition Stoke boss Mark Hughes, perhaps inspired by Sunderland's League Cup quarter-final win over Chelsea on Tuesday, went with a pretty much full-strength side. Stoke have won only three of their last 12 games but have also lost just once in eight. For an hour they showed why they're tough to beat, but the minute United prodded and probed with purpose it brought about the breakthrough.
Move of the match Young's goal was a lesson in incisive attacking that, before that point, United had lacked. Cleverley's quick free-kick, Young's penetrative pass and, after Hernandez's lay-off, his thunderous strike was a move worthy of winning the match outright.
In the stands A bumper travelling party of Reds made the short trip down the M6, braving wind, rain, hail and the usual icy reception from the Stoke crowd. As ever, United's away fans were in fine voice, running through the full repertoire of terrace anthems, including a new Adnan Januzaj song to the tune of Gilbert O'Sullivan's Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day: "I want to tell you, I might as well do, about a boy who can do anything. He comes from Belgium, his name is Adnan, Januzaj, Januzaj, Januzaj."