Late goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood helped a much-changed Manchester United overcome Luton Town 3-0 at Kenilworth Road to reach the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 10 changes to the side that were beaten 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace in their opening Premier League game, and Juan Mata's penalty (44) broke the deadlock just before the break.
- How Luton and Man Utd lined up
- Two channels for the price of one - 146 live PL games + EFL for just £18 p/m
- Carabao Cup video | Fixtures | Results
Nathan Jones' high-flying Championship side came close to an equaliser when Dean Henderson, on his United debut, brilliantly kept out Tom Lockyer's header before Eric Bailly was on the line to clear the defender's rebound.
Solskjaer turned to Rashford and Greenwood in the closing stages, and the extra quality told as the pair combined for Rashford to double United's lead (88) and there was still time for Greenwood to notch his first of the season (90+3). United will face a trip to either Brighton or Preston in the fourth round.
Luton: Shea (7), Kioso (7), Lockyer (7), Bradley (7), Norrington-Davies (6), Clark (6), Tunnicliffe (7), Moncur (6), LuaLua (6), Hylton (6), Shinnie (6).
Subs: Cornick (6), Lee (6).
Man Utd: Henderson (7), Wan Bissaka (7), Bailly (7), Maguire (7), Williams (7), Fred (7), Matic (7), Mata (8), van de Beek (6), Lingard (6), Ighalo (6).
Subs: Rashford (7), Greenwood (7), Bruno Fernandes (6).
Man of the match: Juan Mata.
No banana skin for Man Utd
After the debacle of the defeat to Palace, United's worst opening-day loss for 25 years, this was an opportunity for some of Solskjaer's players to prove their worth for the coming campaign with 13 days remaining in the transfer window. This was an important win against in-form opposition to get the season up and running.
Nathan Jones entered the game having lost just one of 13 games as Luton boss since the start of his second spell at the club in May, a run which saw them dramatically fight to retain their Championship status.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 10 changes - handing full debuts to goalkeeper Dean Henderson and summer signing Donny Van De Beek. Only captain Harry Maguire retained his place as the likes of Jesse Lingard, Odion Ighalo and Juan Mata were handed rare starts.
Former United youngster Ryan Tunnicliffe started for the hosts as one of nine alterations made by the Sky Bet Championship outfit.
The Hatters haven't looked back and showed their confidence as they looked to pull off the prized scalp. Danny Hylton fired a shot into the side-netting before Brandon Williams did well to block a shot from Andrew Shinnie.
A sloppy clearance from Nemanja Matic allowed Jordan Clark to run onto the ball and see his shot deflect a yard or so wide, but the hosts were punished for a lapse in concentration on the stroke of half-time.
Mata had already gone close with two low drives that brought smart saves from James Shea but he was given an even more presentable opportunity after George Moncur tripped Williams inside the box with two minutes remaining of the opening period.
Mata made no mistake to extend United's impressive record of converting spot-kicks since the start of last season.
Luton continued to play with commendable confidence as Hylton's early cross narrowly evaded Clark moments after the restart, but United very nearly doubled their lead when Ryan Tunnicliffe produced a fine goal-line clearance against his former club to deny Jesse Lingard.
- All Sky Sports' offers for the new season
- Leyton Orient vs Tottenham postponed
- Carabao Cup fourth round draw
Solskjaer clearly felt he needed more to put a spirited Luton to bed and introduced Bruno Fernandes, Greenwood and Rashford from the bench with 12 minutes to go.
Instead, it was Luton who would threaten next, Henderson making his first save of the night to deny Lockyer, who then saw his follow-up effort cleared off the line.
But then the resources available to Solskjaer would prove the difference as Rashford and Greenwood both opened their accounts for the season in the dying stages to seal a result which certainly flattered the visitors.
What the managers said
Luton boss Nathan Jones: "The score flatters them massively, but for 85 minutes I thought we were outstanding, considering where we've come from, the squad and the budget. We've had to go for it late on.
"They brought on Rashford, Bruno and Greenwood and when they turned the ball over quickly, they're in at you. The two late goals were two counter-attacks when we were trying to get the goal back but I'm so proud of them.
"It took a penalty for them to take the lead but I thought structurally we were brilliant. It was a very unnecessary penalty and if you defend well in those areas, you don't concede the penalty.
"I thought we grew into the game. United had about 18 internationals today so I'm beaming with pride. The late goals put a gloss on it for them which made me a little bit sick in the stomach but I couldn't be more proud."
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "Going through is the big thing. We've got a 'keeper back there who does his job, and we scored some nice goal towards the end where you can see the impact that they've had. Apart from that, we've had a good work out.
"It's the job our goalkeeper has to sometimes do. He has to stay concentrated, and make saves when needed. David de Gea has done that for years and years - Dean did that today.
"We'll just have to take it day by day and game by game. I didn't want to give the players who came on any more time than that as we'll have a hard day of training tomorrow!"
On Lingard's future: "I thought he was bright and he's getting closer to a goal. He's got legs and I thought he was bright and busy today. We're working with the ones we have now, and then let's see what happens. We'll keep you updated when and if something happens."
Analysis: It was a no-win situation
Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher:
"It was a no-win situation tonight for United. People expected United to win and on the back of the result at the weekend, they'll be very relieved with the 3-0 scoreline.
"Luton made a number of changes and there were a lot of tired legs for the final 10 minutes. I was happy for Rashford, as I felt he lost his way with a back injury post-lockdown. Before that, he was arguably United's best player and that goal will do him a lot of good going into this season."
50 up for Solskjaer - Opta stats
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won 50 of his 92 games in charge of Manchester United across all competitions - only Ernest Mangnall (78 games) and José Mourinho (81 games) have reached 50 managerial wins in fewer matches for the Red Devils.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 11 meetings with Luton (W9 D2), since a 2-1 defeat in a top-flight match back in March 1987.
- Man Utd's Marcus Rashford has been involved in ten goals in his last seven League Cup appearances (7 goals, 3 assists).
- Mason Greenwood was the first Man Utd substitute to score and assist in the League Cup since Marcus Rashford in September 2016 vs Northampton, with both players aged 18 at the time of achieving this feat.
Man of the match - Juan Mata
Mata marked his 200th United start in style and was the one bright spark for the visitors during another laborious display before the cavalry arrived late on. He produced 50 passes and had four attempts on goal, the most of any player.
He told Sky Sports: "It was one of those games where if you lose, it's a mess, so we did what we had to do. We did a professional job today and sometimes played some good football.
"It's job done after we know the result at the weekend wasn't good enough. The save Henderson made was very important as it was 1-0 at the time. I think we did OK. We haven't trained much so now it's about getting the confidence and the rhythm back."
Luton travel to face Watford in the Sky Bet Championship at 12.30pm on Saturday while Manchester United visit Brighton in the Premier League at 12.30pm on the same day.