Match ends, Stoke City 0, Manchester United 2.
Stunning strikes from Ashley Young and Patrice Evra against Stoke set Manchester United up for a Capital One Cup semi-final against Sunderland.
Rain hindered the flow of the first half, with play temporarily suspended in the 29th minute because of hail.
But then Young lit up the match with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box which gave United the lead.
Evra then made sure of their place in the last four with a rare curling right-footed effort.
There was a time when a Manchester United manager used this competition to blood the squad's youngsters.
But, unlike his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes does not have two decades of unprecedented success to cushion him from the criticisms which would have come his way had his team lost this tie.
United's inconsistency in the Premier League this season, which has left them 10 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal, combined with Moyes's desire to secure a first trophy of the new United era, meant it was unsurprising the Scot selected a team full of familiar names.
The injured Wayne Rooney, however, was one star name missing from the squad, though his manager said before the match that he hoped the England striker would be available for the busy festive season.
For the majority of the game, those United players charged with replacing the effervescence usually supplied by injured strikers Rooney and Robin van Persie lacked poise and composure, and even after an hour the weather continued to overshadow the football as a talking point.
It was arguably a blessing the players were given the chance to regroup midway through the first half as no-one had stood out, although the men on the pitch could rightly blame the gusts and heavy rain for making life difficult.
United did begin with gusto, with Young hitting the side-netting in the second minute after being put through by Danny Welbeck.
But the visitors failed to maintain that attacking urgency and after an uneventful half-hour, the skies opened and dumped hailstones over the Britannia Stadium.
Referee Mark Clattenburg said he was unable to see the players and quickly called them from the pitch, with the teams re-emerging 10 minutes later when the elements were a little calmer.
Ultimately, it will be a match remembered for the weather and Young's show-stopping strike. The forward stylishly grabbed the opener after a clever one-two with substitute Javier Hernandez, who had been on the pitch for only a matter of minutes.
Jonathan Walters nearly inspired a Stoke fightback, the striker first launching a dangerous cross across the box, which Chris Smalling had to head away, before wasting two great chances to restore parity.
Stoke paid the price for their profligacy and it was another superb goal which ended the home team's hopes, with Evra weaving in from the left and beating Thomas Sorensen with his weaker foot.
Manchester United manager David Moyes:
"The conditions, especially in the first half, made it really difficult for the players.
"I think the first goal, whoever scored, was going to make a big difference.
"It was a tight game. I don't think Stoke created too many chances, either.
"Manchester United Football Club are used to winning trophies, it's just business as usual, but I've got to say we're all delighted that we're in the semi-final."
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes:
"I thought we made a fair fist of it in the first half against all the elements and thought we were in decent shape.
"Our organisation was good, United weren't creating too many chances. But United, on the night, deserved to win.
"They just had a little bit more power and pace. We weren't able to ask enough questions of them in the second half."
Check out the best photos from tonight's Capital One Cup ties on the BBC Sport Facebook page.
- 17ShawcrossSubstituted forAdamat 76'minutes
- 24AssaidiSubstituted forArnautovicat 62'minutes
- 1de Gea
- 2da Silva
- 8OliveiraSubstituted forHernándezat 58'minutes
- 19WelbeckSubstituted forFletcherat 82'minutes
- 25A Valencia
- 18YoungBooked at 63mins
- 17Almeida da Cunha
- Mark Clattenburg
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Stoke City 0, Manchester United 2.
Attempt missed. Glenn Whelan (Stoke City) right footed shot from more than 40 yards on the right wing misses to the right.
Attempt missed. Charlie Adam (Stoke City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Glenn Whelan.
Ashley Young (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Glenn Whelan (Stoke City).
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Jonny Evans.
Attempt missed. Stephen Ireland (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high following a corner.
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Rafael.
Attempt saved. Javier Hernández (Manchester United) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Jonathan Walters (Stoke City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Marc Wilson.
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Jonny Evans.
Substitution, Manchester United. Darren Fletcher replaces Danny Welbeck.
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Erik Pieters.
Tom Cleverley (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Charlie Adam (Stoke City).
Goal! Stoke City 0, Manchester United 2. Patrice Evra (Manchester United) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Ashley Young.
Substitution, Stoke City. Charlie Adam replaces Ryan Shawcross because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City) because of an injury.