Zlatan Ibrahimovic spared Manchester United’s blushes at embattled Blackburn as he fired Jose Mourinho’s men into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Fighting on four fronts has left United with a bloated fixture schedule that manager Mourinho this week conceded could well leave his team “in trouble” towards the end of the campaign.
A fifth-round replay would have been a punch in the gut for the FA Cup holders so the Portuguese called upon his stars to complete a comeback at Sky Bet Championship strugglers Blackburn, with Ibrahimovic coolly sweeping home fellow substitute Paul Pogba’s clipped pass to secure a 2-1 victory.
It was far from straightforward at a gloomy Ewood Park as Rovers attempted to join surprise packages Lincoln and Millwall in the quarter-final draw – a dream that came a step closer to becoming reality as Danny Graham smashed home a stylish opener.
The outstanding strike was matched in its quality by the Henrikh Mkhitaryan pass that put Marcus Rashford through to level in the 27th minute, but United struggled to build on the goal despite bossing possession.
Mourinho turned to his star-studded bench to kill off Blackburn, with the move paying dividends 15 minutes from time as Ibrahimovic smartly turned home Pogba’s clipped pass to the delight of the 7,283 travelling fans and to the relief of his manager.
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Additional reporting by PA