Jose Mourinho hailed new signing Alexis Sanchez after he delivered a man-of-the-match performance to fire Manchester United into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win against lowly Yeovil Town on Friday.
Sanchez was named in the starting line-up just days after he signed for United from Arsenal and was involved in the build-up to the first two goals, scored by Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera.
Substitutes Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku added late gloss to the scoreline as United ran out comfortable winners against their fourth-tier opponents.
“Alexis Sanchez is a fantastic addition, everyone is happy that he comes,” said a delighted Mourinho. “Good players want good players. The question is always which one is going to be left out, it is not about that for us.
“We have a fantastic group of attacking players and he is another one with more maturity and experience. His choice for the second goal is a choice that a player like Marcus Rashford is too nervous to make that kind of decision. He brings maturity and class.”
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 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.
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, 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 Herrera, who finished impressively with his left foot.
United began to find their fluency in the latter stages, with the in-form Lingard and Lukaku adding the goals to reflect United’s superiority.
Elsewhere on Friday, Sheffield Wednesday beat Reading 3-1 in an all-Championship clash.
On Sunday, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple, have a tough challenge against Championship high-fliers Cardiff while Chelsea face Newcastle.
In another all Premier-League tie on Saturday, Liverpool host West Brom while Nottingham Forest’s reward for dumping out champions Arsenal in the third round is a trip to Hull.