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FA Cup - United sweep into last eight of Cup

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Denny crane

Denny crane
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Manchester United's bid for an unprecedented quadruple gained momentum after a 4-1 win over Derby County at Pride Park booked a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

United went two goals up before half-time thanks to strikes from Nani and Darron Gibson with Cristiano Ronaldo adding a third soon after the break.

Derby defender Miles Addison pulled one back on 56 minutes to give the hosts some brief hope only for substitute Danny Welbeck to seal victory for the Premier League side with a fourth in the 82nd minute.

The result saw United reach the last eight, where they were drawn to play Swansea or Fulham.

Chelsea were handed an away trip to Blackburn or Coventry while Cardiff City or Arsenal or Burnley will play Sheffield United or Hull City.

Completing the draw were the day's other winners, Everton, who were paired with either West Ham or Middlesbrough.

Derby may be the only team to have beaten United this year but a repeat of their 1-0 victory in the first leg of January's Carling Cup semi-final was never on the cards, despite an experimental United side.

Alex Ferguson opted to make seven changes to the starting XI that beat West Ham last weekend, with Ben Foster and Gibson among those drafted in to win rare starts.

But United's strength in depth is second to none and even a side missing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic were capable of bossing the opening stages.

Stephen Bywater was Derby's busiest player early on and the keeper was called into action on two occasions as United sprayed the ball around confidently and carved out a number of chances.

The first fell to Darren Fletcher, the Scotsman nearly rounding off a fluid passing move involving Rafael Da Silva, Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo with a crisp drive which Bywater was forced to deal with.

The keeper again denied United soon after, this time pulling off a brilliant reaction save to deny Ji-Sung Park from close range.

There were brief moments of encouragement for the hosts however, Paul Green seeing an instinctive first-time volley on 21 minutes whistle over the bar before Rob Hulse charged into the box, only to blot his copybook with a hopeful dive.

But the Premier League side looked comfortable and when the opener arrived, it came as no surprise.

The manner of the strike was equally unsurprising, given that Nani cut in from the left wing to fire an unstoppable drive past the keeper - a thrilling sight already witnessed on numerous occasions since the Portuguese arrived in Manchester and one likely to be repeated again.

The visitors thought they had doubled their lead on 37 minutes through Ronaldo, only to be denied by a late linesman's flag. The Ballon d'Or winner had nearly finished his celebrations by the time the referee's whistle blew to indicate he had been offside as Giggs flicked through.

Ferguson raged at the decision on the touchline but his mood was softened just before the half-time break when Gibson pounced on a blocked Ronaldo free-kick to fire home first-time from the edge of the box.

Ronaldo found the back of the net again three minutes into the second half and this time there was no disputing its validity; the forward reached a corner ahead of Addison to direct a typically powerful header past Bywater.

A fourth very nearly followed, but Bywater was again on hand to deny first Ronaldo and then Fletcher with an impressive double save.

Against the run of play, Addison then headed past Foster in the 57th minute to give the home crowd hope of witnessing an improbable comeback.

The goal sparked Derby into life and at 1-3 down, the next goal was always going to be crucial.

Gary Teale in particular did his best to ensure it went Derby's way, and he became the focal point for most of the hosts' attacking play. Only a super save by Foster denied the Scot with a well-struck effort from distance, a goal that would have made for an interesting final 13 minutes.

But it was United who were to have the final say on proceedings, Welbeck opening up his body to sidefoot home with a crisp first time effort on 81 minutes and maintain United hopes of a clean sweep of this season's trophies.
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