Luton Town 0 Manchester United 3
Manchester United won 3-0 at Luton Town in the third round of the Carabao Cup at Kenilworth Road, thanks to goals from Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed a debut to Dean Henderson in goal, while Dutch import Donny van de Beek made his first start, after scoring as a substitute against Crystal Palace at the weekend.
The boss made 10 changes to the XI on duty at Old Trafford, with only captain Harry Maguire keeping his place, as the Reds set up a fourth-round clash at either Preston North End or Brighton & Hove Albion next week.
FIRST HALF - MATA MAKES THE BREAKTHROUGH
United started in control and soon had a couple of attempts from Mata, one of which forced a decent save out of home keeper James Shea, following a clever dummy by van de Beek to a Jesse Lingard pass.
After impressive former Reds midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe created an opening that was spurned by Danny Hylton, both sides almost scored with deflected efforts. Fred's 19th-minute shot was narrowly off target and Jordan Clark's dangerous burst and drive clipped off Eric Bailly and just past Henderson's left-hand post.
The opportunities for Ole's men dried up as the half wore on, with the Hatters gaining much more of a foot-hold in the game. However, van de Beek and Mata sparked the Reds into life as half-time approached and, when Brandon Williams pounced on a loose clearance, he was barged over by George Moncur inside the box. Mata stepped up to send Shea the wrong way from the spot.
SECOND HALF - LATE GOALS SEAL IT
Lingard shot wide as the visitors carried the greater threat after the restart, without really testing keeper Shea. Odion Ighalo ran through to power in a drive that was blocked and, soon afterwards, Tunnicliffe cleared Lingard's volleyed back-post effort off the line. Maintaining the pressure, Nemanja Matic then did work Shea with a left-foot drive that forced the keeper to parry it away.
Jesse had another go but curled off target, when trying to cap a nice move involving Mata and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, while van de Beek drilled against Shea's legs from a difficult angle.
Luton's big moment came with nine minutes left but Henderson made an astonishing save to keep out Tom Lockyer's header and, when the defender sent the rebound goalwards, Eric Bailly made a vital intervention. Instead of Town drawing level, United went further ahead, Rashford profiting from an inviting pass by fellow substitute Greenwood to stroke home in the 88th minute.
There was still time for Lingard and Rashford to have further attempts before Greenwood got in on the act with a typically clinical finish after cutting in from the right.
United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire (c), Williams; Matic, Fred; Mata (Rashford 78), van de Beek (Fernandes 78), Lingard; Ighalo (Greenwood 78).
Substitutes: Grant, Dalot, Mengi, James.
Scorers: Mata 44 (pen), Rashford 88, Greenwood 92.
Luton: Shea; Kioso, Lockyer, Bradley (c), Norrington-Davies; Clark (Cornick 76), Moncur (Lee 76), Tunnicliffe; Hylton, Shinnie, LuaLua.
Substitutes: Sluga, Cranie, Pearson, Ruddock-Mpanzu, Collins.
Booked: Kioso, Hylton.
Solskjaer told us: “It wasn't safe, they made us work hard for it. But that's what we need, we need to get competitive games and minutes into the legs of our players because normally we're in a pre-season after such [a] short training [period] and pre-season games are different, so I was happy with the competitive nature of this game and of course happy to go through because we'll get another chance next midweek to get more match minutes into players.”
Luton Town manager Nathan Jones speaking to Sky Sports: “For 85-86 minutes I thought we were outstanding and then they bring Rashford and Greenwood on. They push on when we are trying to get the goal back. It took a penalty and a bit of a nick to put them in the lead. Throughout the game, structurally how we worked and the quality we showed, I am so proud of the team.”
MAN OF THE MATCH
Donny van de Beek won the award after receiving 18 per cent of votes that were cast by supporters in our Official App, with our first scorer Juan Mata finish second in the poll result with 17 per cent and Jesse Lingard third with 15 per cent. Thanks to everyone who voted!
Mata marked his 200th United start by scoring a 49th goal for the club and that also made him the only player to score in every season since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Speaking afterwards, the Spaniard was pleased with the result: “It’s one of those games where, if you win you’ve done what you had to do, and if you lose it’s a mess,” he told Sky Sports. “We did a professional job.”