TRANMERE (REUTERS) - Manchester United thrashed third-tier Tranmere Rovers 6-0 on Sunday (Jan 26) to join Manchester City in the FA Cup fifth round but it failed to silence protests against the club's owners.
A muddy and bobbly Prenton Park pitch looked the perfect stage for an old-fashioned Cup shock but it was Tranmere who sank as Harry Maguire's thunderbolt signalled a United onslaught that saw Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones and Anthony Martial all score before the interval.
Mason Greenwood added a second-half penalty meaning it was the first time since 1892 that six different players had scored in the same game for United.
It was an impressive display from a United side that had lost three of their last four Premier League games, and eclipsed Manchester City's 4-0 win over Championship side Fulham earlier, but it might only be a temporary respite for disgruntled fans.
They sang songs against the Glazer family, who own the club, and vice-chairman Ed Woodward even as the goals rained in.
"It was really important to get the win, coming off the back of a bad performance and result against Burnley," skipper Maguire said referring to Wednesday's 2-0 home defeat. "We set our stall out to put in a positive performance for the fans."
Tranmere knocked out Premier League Watford's second-string side in a replay on Thursday and were fired up for the visit of a United team missing key players and looking vulnerable.
But when Maguire advanced and belted a right-footed effort into the top corner after 10 minutes before Dalot jinked into the area to finish with aplomb three minutes later and Jesse Lingard curled home three minutes after that, it was all over.
Tranmere had come back from three down against Watford to force a replay but there was no escape this time as United turned on the style on the type of surface rarely seen these days.
"When you score two or three goals in quick succession, it's sit down and enjoy the game and let the players enjoy it," United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
If Maguire's strike was a rarity - it was his first of the season - then when Phil Jones looped in a header for his first goal since 2014, after Dalot and Lingard had put United in control, the visitors knew it was going to be a good day.
Anthony Martial added a fifth goal just before the break with a deflected effort and poor old Rovers 'keeper Scott Davies could have done nothing about any of them.
United had not scored five times before half-time since 2001 and Greenwood's penalty, after a foul on Tahith Chong, meant it was their biggest away win since they beat Nottingham Forest 8-1 in the Premier League in 1999.
"You can see everyone wanted us to fail but it doesn't bother me," Solskjaer said. "I'm happy but won't relax."
Holders Manchester City romped to victory over second-tier Fulham - a task made easier as the visitors played virtually the whole game with 10 men after Tim Ream was red-carded after six minutes for conceding a penalty converted by Ilkay Gundogan.
Bernardo Silva made it 2-0 and Gabriel Jesus scored twice after the break as City reached 100 goals for the season in all competitions, the first club to do so in Europe's top leagues.