Manchester United’s youngsters gave a tantalising glimpse of the future but it was old hand Michael Owen who scored twice as the Premier League leaders cruised into the League Cup fourth round with a 3-0 victory over old rivals Leeds on Tuesday.
Sir Alex Ferguson made 11 changes from the team that beat Chelsea 3-1 at the weekend, but it failed to upset his unbeaten side, who were too strong in every department for their outclassed Championship opponents.
The visitors surged into a three-goal interval lead, before taking their foot off the gas to avoid any further embarrassment for Simon Grayson’s side in front of a passionate crowd of more than 31,000 at Elland Road.
United’s was very much an experimental side, the manager handing a debut to teenage centre-back Zeki Fryers, who played alongside midfielder Michael Carrick in a team with only two recognised defenders as midfielder Antonio Valencia slotted in at right-back.
Despite a squad packed with youth, it was one of the more experienced heads in Owen who sealed victory with a clinical brace in a little over half an hour as United gained ample revenge for an embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of their cross-Pennine rivals in 2010.
Andy Keogh had a close range effort blocked for the hosts early on, but after that it was all one way traffic in favour of the visitors.
With 15 minutes on the clock, South Korea’s Park Ji-Sung burst down the right, and when the midfielder pulled the ball back, Owen — making his first start of the season — had time and space to move the ball onto his left foot and beat goalkeeper Andy Lonergan with a scuffed finish from 12 yards.
United were cruising just after the half hour when Owen doubled the lead.
Mame Diouf did all the spadework, forcing his way into the area before finding Owen, the former England striker doing the rest with another clinical finish from 15 yards.
Valencia should have made it three before the break, but the stand-in full-back fired wide when it looked easier to hit the target after neat build-up play from Diitar Berbatov and Owen.
The busy Lonergan then had to be alert to keep out Valencia’s sharp near post effort, but there was still time for Giggs to make it three before the interval.
The Welsh midfielder waltzed round full-back Aidan White from a short corner to curl home his second goal of the season past Lonergan with the help of a deflection.
It proved to be Giggs’ last taste of the action as the 37-year-old was given a breather at half-time, replaced by French teenager Paul Pogba, the latest youngster off the Old Trafford talent production line.
Neither keeper was seriously challenged after the break as the visitors were content to play out time and keep their powder dry for sterner tests to come, starting with the tough Premier League trip to Stoke City at the weekend.
United even chose to play out the last few minutes with 10 men as Fryers came off as a precaution after the visitors had made all three substitutions – with Dimitar Berbatov filling in at centre back.
Watch video highlights below: