Manchester United were more than equal to a wet, windy Wednesday night in Stoke.
Ashley Young and Patrice Evra scored second-half goals as Manchester United won 2-0 at Stoke City on Wednesday in their Capital One Cup quarter-final match at a blustery and soggy Britannia Stadium.
The match included a brief stoppage in the first half as conditions became too poor to continue play on the pitch.
Young scored the opener in the 62nd minute, and Evra added the second 16 minutes later for United, who advanced to the semi-finals to face Sunderland.
"The conditions, especially in the first half, made it really difficult for the players," Manchester United manager David Moyes said, per BBC Sport. "I think the first goal, whoever scored, was going to make a big difference. It was a tight game. I don't think Stoke created too many chances, either."
#CapitalOneCup Semi-Final Draw: Sunderland v Manchester United— Capital One Cup (@CapitalOne_Cup) December 18, 2013
Moyes added: "Manchester United Football Club are used to winning trophies, it's just business as usual, but I've got to say we're all delighted that we're in the semi-final."
Perhaps with that sentiment in mind, Moyes selected a strong line-up to face Stoke. Danny Welbeck, who scored twice in Manchester United's weekend win against Aston Villa, started in the attack, while Wayne Rooney missed out due to injury, per The Metro. Anderson came into the squad for a rare start, and Shinji Kagawa returned to the bench following an illness.
Welbeck set up Young for United's first chance, in the third minute. Receiving a pass from Anderson, Welbeck laid off for Young, who blasted a high shot into the outside netting from the right side.
Stoke's first shot came in the 11th minute, when Geoff Cameron fired over the bar. On the other end, Thomas Sorensen saved Anderson's low shot at his near post in the 22nd minute.
The conditions worsened until the 29th minute, when referee Mark Clattenburg decided to suspend the match as rain, hail and sleet fell on the Britannia Stadium. After a seven-minute delay, the match restarted.
Just before the end of the first half, United had a half-chance to take the lead. Chris Smalling flicked a corner to Jonny Evans at the back post, but with plenty of time and space, Evans was unable to control the ball and Sorensen gathered.
The teams remained scoreless well into the second half, but United scored soon after the introduction of Javier Hernandez in the 58th minute. And the Mexican was involved in the breakthrough goal, just four minutes after his introduction.
In the 62nd minute, Young collected the ball in the midfield and passed to Hernandez in the middle. Hernandez held up possession, held off a defender and allowed Young to run onto the ball. Young's powerful first-time shot was too much for Sorensen, who could only touch the ball on its way into the net.
Leading 1-0, United came close again a minute later. Phil Jones charged into the final third and laid off for Hernandez, who nearly had a chance to shoot but was dispossessed by Ryan Shawcross' well-timed tackle.
Stoke were not finished, however.
In the 71st minute, Erik Pieters crossed from the left for Jonathan Walters, who escaped his marker and created an opportunity at the near post. But Walters was unable to strike Pieters' cross, and the chance passed. Three minutes later, Peter Crouch chested down for Walters, whose long shot was deflected just over Manchester United's goal.
But instead of finding an equalizer, Stoke found themselves down two goals soon after.
In the 78th minute, Young spotted Evra's run on the left flank and fed the Frenchman with an incisive pass inside the box. Evra took a touch, steadied himself and curled his shot past Sorensen for a 2-0 lead.
The second goal ended the match as a competitive spectacle, and with advancement assured United introduced Darren Fletcher in the 82nd minute. Fletcher, who returned to United's lineup in the weekend win over Aston Villa, made his second appearance since missing nearly a year of action due to a chronic bowel condition.
"I thought we made a fair first of it in the first half against all the elements and thought we were in decent shape," Stoke City manager Mark Hughes said, per BBC Sport.
"Our organisation was good, United weren't creating too many chances. But United, on the night, deserved to win. They just had a little bit more power and pace. We weren't able to ask enough questions of them in the second half."
Ashley Young: A-
It hasn't been an easy season for Young, who has dealt with poor form and accusations of diving since the beginning of the campaign.
On Wednesday night, though, he took his chance well with a blistering goal that turned out to be the winner. He also assisted United's second goal, a beautifully taken effort from Evra.
According to WhoScored.com, Young made two key passes and completed four successful dribbles. On the other hand, only two of eight crosses were accurate, meaning there remains room for improvement.
Danny Welbeck: B+
Welbeck didn't score, but for a second straight match, he led United's attack well.
Following his two-goal outburst against Aston Villa at the weekend, Welbeck completed 88 percent of his passes, including four key passes, and set up an early chance for Young.
With Rooney and Robin van Persie fighting injuries, Welbeck's form in the coming weeks will be important for United.