The first meeting between two local rivals Preston North End and Manchester United in 43 years lived up to the hype as 11-time FA Cup champions United came from a goal down to register a 3-1 win and book a spot in the quarterfinals of the event.
United manager Louis Van Gaal opted to go with a diamond yet once more, with Belgian Marouane Fellaini started at the top of the diamond. Daley Blind was at the base of it, while record signing towards his left, while Ander Herrera was on his right, making a rare start. With Robin Van Persie out injured, captain Wayne Rooney started in a strikera s position alongside Radamel Falcao.
Much like Uniteda s previous games, the team struggled to get going early on. The play was disjointed as the players continued to look sluggish as they failed to get any sort of possession in Prestona s half. Credit, however, has to be given to Preston who were very well organised in defence and never gave United an inch.
The match changed following the break, as Preston pressed high up the pitch, denying United time on the ball. The strategy paid rich dividends, giving the home side the lead with two minutes of the restart. Scott Laird scored off a deflected left footed strike and United looked in deep trouble.
At the 60 minute mark, United were still struggling, prompting Van Gaal to make a tactical and a personnel switch. On came Ashley Young for the ineffective Falcao who spent most of the game huffing and puffing.
Young made an immediate impact, setting up Ander Herrera for that equaliser in the 65th minute. The former Aston Villa player was moved into midfield, freeing up Fellaini who played upfront from this point, with Rooney. The switch made a huge difference as the Belgian scored the second goal to give United the lead for the first time in the game.
Van Gaal was full of praise for Fellaini, following the game. He said, a Marouane Fellaini has a body, he also scores goals. I played him in the position that he wants for the first time but I do not always have a position for him. The spirit was better.a
The Dutchman continued, a I was reasonably satisfied. We didn’t give anything away. The fights between Kevin Davies and the defenders was difficult but we didn’t give anything away. The Preston goal was a little bit unlucky, it was deviated.
But then we showed an unbelievable team spirit. We changed the shape and that was the solution. We scored fantastic goals, a little bit lucky also I think. I liked the second goal a lot, we have trained that a lot.a
Wayne Rooney added the third late in the game to finish the match, and book Uniteda s spot in the quarterfinal where they will play Arsenal at Old Trafford.