Odion Ighalo scored his first Manchester United brace on Thursday when they defeated Derby County 3-0 to reach the last eight of the FA Cup for the sixth season in a row.
The Red Devils went ahead after Luke Shaw's volley skipped over goalkeeper Kelle Roos via a slight deflection off Jesse Lingard, and Ighalo converted a cool second goal for United to put them 2-0 up at half-time.
Ighalo tripled his United goal tally in one evening after scoring a second in the 70th minute to cap a dream performance for the striker.
United—who reached the 2016 and 2018 FA Cup finals—have exited at the quarter-final stage in two of the previous three campaigns. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will travel to Norwich City in the next round after the Canaries beat Tottenham Hotspur away on penalties Wednesday.
United travelled to Derby unbeaten in eight games across all competitions and having kept clean sheets in six of those matches.
That being said, it was the Rams who emerged as victors when the two clubs last met in September 2018. They beat the Red Devils 8-7 on penalties at Old Trafford to reach the fourth round of that campaign's Carabao Cup following a 2-2 draw in normal time.
Wayne Rooney—who scored 253 goals in 559 appearances for United—had failed to score or assist in six previous fixtures against United (all at Everton) but was among Derby's more positive threats in attack. He tested Sergio Romero with Derby's sole attempt on target during the first half, forcing the save from a free-kick for which Shaw was responsible.
United's left-back took his caution but became the hero for his breakthrough a quarter-of-an-hour later, despite Lingard's apparent calls to claim the goal after it touched his back on the way in:
Accidental though it might have been, the deflection almost seemed destined considering Lingard's prolific record against the Rams:
Phillip Cocu's side have attracted praise for their style of play in England's second tier this season, with the former PSV Eindhoven and Fenerbahce manager taking some time to adapt his tactics with the squad.
Derby's comeback hopes suffered a damaging blow after Ighalo—a January signing on loan from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua—doubled the deficit eight minutes after United's opener.
Shaw was again heavily involved and drove towards the opposition box, firing the ball into Ighalo, who showed tight control before finishing low into the left corner:
The Nigerian scored his first goal for the club during a 5-0 UEFA Europa League demolition of Club Brugge one week earlier, improving his record to two goals in as many starts for the club he grew up supporting.
United were dominant in possession and had the greater share of first-half attempts on goal, though The Athletic's Ryan Conway asserted his side were competitive:
The travelling fans will have been pleased to see United's press didn't wilt after the restart as their side remained on top, with Scott McTominay once again commanding at the core of their midfield.
Bruno Fernandes was also lively in the No. 10 role but was replaced by Andreas Pereira after 67 minutes, with Ighalo finding the back of the net for a second time shortly after:
Sportswriter Sacha Pisani highlighted the under-the-radar loan signing is already in range of beating some of United's much higher-profile attackers in recent years:
His and Fernandes' impacts have been much appreciated among Solskjaer's squad since they were brought to Old Trafford, with United continuing to reap the benefits of some smart winter business.
Rooney drew a tremendous save from Romero with another free-kick close to full-time, but United held firm to deny their former talisman a consolatory strike against his old employers.
The top-flight outfit have a prime opportunity to advance again if they can beat Norwich at Carrow Road in the quarters, though Solskjaer will take little for granted after they knocked out Jose Mourinho's Spurs.
United have little time to rest ahead of Sunday's Premier League derby at home to local rivals Manchester City, while Derby resume their Championship campaign at home to Blackburn Rovers.