Blackburn 1-2 Manchester United: Zlatan Ibrahimovic sends visitors into FA Cup quarter-finals
By Lewis Jones
Last Updated: 19/02/17 11:54pm
Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench to score a late winner as Manchester United beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 to set up an FA Cup quarter-final tie at Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho's men came from behind to see off the Sky Bet Championship strugglers, who took the lead through Danny Graham in the 17th minute.
Marcus Rashford pulled United level before half-time and Ibrahimovic netted the winner with 15 minutes to play.
United have now lost just one of their last 24 games in all competitions and a cup treble could be on the cards courtesy of the EFL Cup, Europa League and the FA Cup - something which Liverpool achieved in 2001.
The first leg of that treble could be put in the bag next Sunday at Wembley in the EFL Cup final against Southampton, live on Sky Sports.
Ashley Young scored in United's last visit to Ewood Park back in April 2012 - a 2-0 win - and he was one of seven changes made by Mourinho to the side that defeated Saint-Etienne in the Europa League.
Michael Carrick was back in the starting XI after recovering from a slight knock while Henrikh Mkhitaryan returned from illness and Marcus Rashford replaced midweek hat-trick hero Ibrahimovic, who took his place on a strong looking United bench.
Wes Brown, who won the FA Cup with United in 2004, was among the Blackburn substitutes as Owen Coyle made four changes from the side that lost to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.
Blackburn defied their lowly status in the Championship with a barnstorming beginning. Marvin Emnes stung the palms of Sergio Romero from 22 yards on 16 minutes before playing a key role as Rovers took the lead.
Emnes twisted past Marcos Rojo in a pocket of space just outside the area before sliding a wonderful pass into the path of Graham, who fired a powerful finish across Romero into the top corner, triggering a round of applause from Mourinho on the touchline.
United didn't panic though and were level 10 minutes later. Picking up the ball deep inside his own half, Mkhitaryan flicked the ball skilfully past Charlie Mulgrew in midfield and charged towards Blackburn territory before finding Rashford with a 40-yard ball with the outside of his foot.
The pass was perfectly weighted and the striker finished off the move by rounding Jason Steele before sliding home into the empty net.
Despite flickers of quality from Mkhitaryan, United struggled to really test the Blackburn back four and the hosts nearly regained the lead after 38 minutes but Craig Conway blazed over from a tight angle.
Mourinho sensed a lack of urgency in the Premier League's side build-up play and called for reinforcements on 63 minutes, bringing on Paul Pogba and Ibrahimovic, who nearly scored with his first touch but was inches away from turning home a Ander Herrera cross.
The double substitution eventually paid off as Pogba fired a pin-point 60-yard ball over the top of the Blackburn defence, which found Ibrahimovic, who calmly half-volleyed an effort into the far corner from 15 yards out.
Blackburn almost nicked an unlikely leveller with three minutes remaining. Substitute Connor Mahoney fired an effort at goal which Romero fumbled straight into the path of Emnes but the goalkeeper denied him with his face. The ball broke to Anthony Stokes who rolled the ball home but he was two yards offside.