Northampton Town 1 Manchester United 3: Mourinho's men avoid Sixfields shock
Manchester United ended a three-game losing run with a 3-1 triumph over Northampton Town in a third-round EFL Cup tie played out in front of a record crowd of 7,798 at Sixfields.
Having warmed up in a hotel car park before the tie, Jose Mourinho's side needed second-half goals from Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford to book their place in the last 16.
Michael Carrick's first-time finish from the edge of the area in the 17th minute had put United ahead, but some shoddy defending allowed Northampton to equalise at the end of the first half.
An unwillingness to deal with the danger led to Daley Blind felling Sam Hoskins inside the area, with Alex Revell converting the resulting penalty to raise hopes of a cup shock.
However, Herrera put the four-time winners of the competition back in front with a low drive before substitute Rashford capitalised on an air shot from goalkeeper Adam Smith to tap home a third.
Mourinho unsurprisingly opted to rotate his squad for the trip to the League One side, although Wayne Rooney remained in the starting XI.
Playing as the main forward in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was named on a strong visiting bench, the England captain saw a potential goal rightly chalked off for offside.
He did at least have a hand in breaking the deadlock, as his free-kick from inside the area hit the wall and broke perfectly for Carrick to pass the ball beyond Smith's desperate dive.
Yet for all their dominance, United looked decidedly shaky at the back.
Kenji Gorre turned easily away from two defenders to clip the crossbar with a left-footed effort just before Blind's obvious trip felled Hoskins inside the area.
Revell punished the Dutchman's mistake, sending goalkeeper Sergio Romero the wrong way to bring Northampton level just before the interval.
Mourinho did not wait long to summon Rashford and Ibrahimovic from the bench in the second half - and both players were involved in the build-up to the crucial third goal of the contest.
Rashford rolled the pass back to the supporting Herrera and, having hit the post just before with a left-footed drive, the Spaniard found the back of the net with a rocket off his right boot.
Any possibility of a second Northampton comeback were dismissed with 15 minutes to play, as Rashford was rewarded for chasing a hopeful punt with a simple finish into an empty net.