Jose Mourinho felt Manchester United were worthy winners at Northampton as they set up an EFL Cup clash with Manchester City.
The Red Devils were looking to get back on track after three straight defeats and made a good start when Michael Carrick gave the visitors the lead, only for Alex Revell to level for the Cobblers before half-time.
Second half goals from Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford eventually killed off the League One side's spirited challenge and book United's place in the next round.
Not only was the ignominy of a fourth straight loss avoided, but the 3-1 win at Sixfields set up a shot at revenge against Pep Guardiola's City in the fourth round after the defeat to their rivals earlier this month.
"We deserved to win clearly," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "(It was as) difficult as I was expecting, but we were totally in control for the first 35 minutes and then we were again in control for the last 45.
"The team was in control from the beginning and the substitutions were just a contribution but overall the team was completely in control.
"The game could and should have been easier because normally it's easier against 10 men and we should have been playing against 10 men very early in the second half.
"But they fought, they played with their strength and they tried to create us problems, which they did sometimes.
"So, difficult match but overall a positive performance."