There were nearly 84 minutes on the clock when substitute Romelu Lukaku nudged a pass to is young teammate. Lingard took the slightest of touches and then took aim. It was an exquisite volley, steered beyond Scott Carson who had done more than anyone to keep United out.
It will also have come as some relief to Lingard’s close friend Marcus Rashford who had just departed the stage after hitting the post twice.
Lukaku made sure of victory in the 90th minute on his return from a head injury as the Championship side pressed for an equaliser.
There were those who questioned whether he had the calibre to be a United player earning those kind of figures.
Nine months on and Lingard is answering his critics in emphatic fashion. Just as United were facing an awkward FA Cup replay to add to their heavy fixture list, the England midfielder came up with his eighth goal in 10 games to end Derby’s resistance last night.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
MANCHESTER UNITED: (4-2-3-1) Romero 6; Lindelof 6, Smalling 7, Blind 6, Shaw 6.5; Herrera 6, Pogba 7; Mata 6 (Martial 67, 6.5), Lingard 7.5, Mkhitaryan 5 (Lukaku 46, 5.5); Rashford 5 (Fellaini 80)
SUBS NOT USED: Rojo, Darmian, McTominay, Pereira
GOALS: Jesse Lingard (84)
COACH: Jose Mourinho
DERBY: (4-2-3-1) Carson 7; Wisdom 6.5, Keogh 7, Pearce 6, Olsson 6.5; Thorne 6, Huddlestone 6.5; Russell 6.5 (Hanson 78, 6), Lawrence 6.5 (Bennett 81), Weimann 6; Winnall 6 (Vydra 67, 6)
SUBS NOT USED: Mitchell, Baird, Martin, Nugent
COACH: Gary Rowett
REFEREE: Kevin Friend 7
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jesse Lingard
VENUE: Old Trafford