Breathing space for Van Gaal as Red Devils march on in Cup

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game

Louis Van Gaal avoided further misery as Manchester United cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a routine victory at Shrewsbury.

Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard booked a home tie with West Ham after a comfortable 3-0 win at Greenhous Meadow.

They met little resistance from disappointing Shrewsbury who allowed United to dominate the game and never tested Sergio Romero.

Victory at Sky Bet League One Shrewsbury may have been a formality but it keeps the vultures off boss Van Gaal, who could have done without the potential banana skin with his position under increasing scrutiny.

In a week which could prove pivotal at Old Trafford it was one game ticked off with minimum fuss.

Progress in the Europa League, where United must overturn a 2-1 deficit to FC Midtjylland on Thursday, is paramount while any Champions League hopes could hinge on Sunday’s visit of Arsenal.

Town were happy to restrict them to pot shots but, with a composed build-up, United were equally content to bide their time.

While a final pass eluded them, the visitors camped inside Shrewsbury’s half as they controlled the game.

It took until the 28th minute to carve out a clear opening when Martial danced into the area and, after Leutwiler got a toe on his effort, Abu Ogogo headed the ball off the line.

As an attacking threat Shrewsbury were anonymous but defensively they held firm until United’s pressure told and Smalling grabbed the lead eight minutes before the break.

Morgan Schneiderlin’s header found the defender free in the area and while his effort lacked direction it deflected off Nathaniel Knight-Percival and bounced past the helpless Leutwiler.

And the visitors made it 2-0 to wrap up the game in first-half injury time when Ogogo tripped Martial and Mata curled in a delicious free-kick from 20 yards.

And Lingard made sure there would be no fightback when, on 61 minutes, he slotted in Ander Herrera’s far-post cross after Romero set up a clinical break.

Mata and Martial were withdrawn with one replacement, Will Keane, striking the post with 16 minutes left.