Casemiro scored one and provided another as Manchester United began their defence of the Carabao Cup with a straightforward victory against lifeless Crystal Palace.
A lot has happened in the seven months since securing the first trophy of the Erik ten Hag era – and the Red Devils’ first silverware in six years – against Newcastle at Wembley.
Casemiro opened the scoring under the arch and found the net again in Tuesday’s 3-0 third-round triumph against Palace as United look to put their poor start to the season behind them.
There were a combined 14 changes for an Old Trafford meeting that will be repeated in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, when Eagles boss Roy Hodgson will demand a vastly improved display.
United kept Palace at arm’s length in a one-sided first half that brought a pair of quickfire goals shortly after injury had ended Dean Henderson’s debut against his former club.
First good team play ended with Alejandro Garnacho turning in Diogo Dalot’s cutback, before Casemiro headed home his fourth goal of the campaign from the returning Mason Mount’s corner.
Anthony Martial rifled home from the Brazil international’s cross in the 55th minute as United rubber-stamped their place in Wednesday’s fourth-round draw by following up their much-needed win at Burnley.
The hosts were in control from the outset at an impressively full Old Trafford, where the best Palace could initially muster was a dangerous early cross cut out by Harry Maguire on his first club start of the season.
United patiently passed and probed in the Palace half, although they had not created a clear-cut chance by the time their former goalkeeper Henderson went off injured on his debut.
Sam Johnstone replaced his fellow United academy graduate in the 19th minute and was beaten just two minutes later.
A cross-field pass to the right ended with the underlapping Dalot bursting forwards and cutting back to Garnacho, who battled to stretch and turn home.
United smelt blood and immediately hunted a potentially tie-settling second.
Dalot met a fantastic diagonal ball with a strike on Johnstone’s goal, before a last-gasp Chris Richards challenge on Facundo Pellistri prevented another effort on goal.
Mount sent over the resulting corner from the right and Casemiro all too easily shrugged off Jeffrey Schlupp to powerfully head home in the 27th minute.
The goals took the sting out of a tie that already had an exhibition vibe about it, with Palace offering precious little in terms of threat as the hosts showed flashes of quality.
Full debutant Sofyan Amrabat had impressed as a makeshift left-back and stepped up into midfield at half-time after Victor Lindelof came on for Mount.
Marc Guehi replaced Jesurun Rak-Sakyi as Palace made a change of their own, but the England defender’s introduction could not prevent Palace conceding again.
Casemiro picked up a loose ball and swung a fine right-footed cross to the far post, where Martial got behind Nathaniel Clyne to slam home in front of the Stretford End.
Both sides made changes with an eye on this weekend’s reunion, including United handing teenager Dan Gore his debut.
“We’ve had a shot,” chanted the Palace fans after Clyne lashed over and soon had a shot on target to sing about after Andre Onana stopped Jean-Philippe Mateta.
Jonny Evans’ header from a corner was denied by a point-blank Johnstone save as the match wound down, while Onana stopped Mateta again before 18-year-old introduction David Ozoh dragged wide.
Lindelof and Garnacho stung the palms as Johnstone ensured things did not get any worse for the south Londoners.