Ratings: Mata the bright spark, Rashford desperate to score

Manchester United faced Hull City in the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinal willing to continue the winning streak. England’s most in-form team started with a strong lineup making changes from the Saturday’s game against Reading, changes that Jose Mourinho had adverted in the post match conference, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasn’t included in 18 man squad. First, it was thought that the manager was playing mind games, but with the lineups being confirmed, it was claimed in MUTV that Ibra missed this due to illness and not injury, relieving United fans that he will be ready for the Liverpool game.

Marcus Rashford who scored the late winner against Hull in August started up front giving him the chance he needed right now, boosting his confidence, while the United captain started his second game in the row hoping to score his 250th goal for the club. Besides Ibrahimovic, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis weren’t included, as they are reportedly waiting for their transfer, while Luke Shaw is yet not featuring in the team.

As the game started, Hull seemed confident but United went all over the place. Rashford would impose with his pace but so unlucky to score. Mata could have put United upfront but that went out. As the game kept going, United was leaving spaces behind, making them to lose the dictation of the game. With Smalling in the heart of the defence, things are hard and extra work is needed. As the team couldn’t get closer to the final third, Pogba, Mkhitaryan went on trying from the outside, but nothing. Something was missing, maybe a key to making the break.

As usual, it’s the wings that solve it for United and so it happened in the second half as an untiring Antonio Valencia once again delivered a lovely ball that was good enough to make it through the Hull defence to Mkhitaryan. Another great combination between the Armenian and Mata, and United were ahead. Signs of relief from the fans and Jose Mourinho and to add the pressure Jose incorporated Martial. As expected, Martial kept trying and trying but once again unlucky to score.

It was an unusual combination between Darmian who finally delivered a good cross that found Fellaini’s head and United scored, now leading 2-0. With the blow of the final whistle, United were winners of the first tie of the EFL Cup semifinal. Wayne Rooney couldn’t score his 250th goal for the club, probably saving it for Super Sunday’s clash against Liverpool. A special occasion played at Old Trafford that may see United back in the title chase.

Going back to the tonight’s match here’s how our players did and here are their ratings:

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made two good saves earlier in the game and one late in the first half. Other than that the Spaniard hasn't had much to do during the first half of the game. Once again, a quiet evening for the goalkeeper that hasn't seen his post in risk during the game.


25 Antonio Valencia

Did well in the first half, delivering a few brilliant and lovely crosses. The wings are key to the game and he showed that with that incredible cross that created the Mata goal. Stunning tonight and always working hard. This man never gets tired and that's a fact.


4 Phil Jones

During the first half, the English well, but he clearly needed to be more careful in those Hull attacks. Continues the good performances, being once again solid. Mourinho has found the right man in the heart of the defence.


12 Chris Smalling

Still doesn't look uncomfortable in a one on one battle and is always in need for backup. Questions raised despite a quiet game overall. Struggling in the first half after the first 20 minutes. Gave a few chances to Hull that could have changed the game. Really needs to work more to win his place in the Starting XI.


36 Matteo Darmian

Started the game well, his passes key on the left-hand side early in the first half. As the first half went by signs of the Darmian of usual, poor deliveries, struggling to defend well. Same thing with him in the second half, uncomfortable under pressure. A good cross in that Fellaini goal, yet poor.


21 Ander Herrera

His interceptions were key to stop Hull to attack, key passes overall and playing well once again. One of Jose's main that will always pull a great performance when needed. Solid once again.


6 Paul Pogba

Brilliant passes from Pogba in both halves. Kept pressure in Hull's half to be key in the build up play that saw United ahead. Unlucky to hit the post in the second half, what's important about him is that he imposes the game. Growing in confidence game after game, showing the world what he can do.


8 Juan Mata

Had the perfect chance to put United ahead in the second minute but the post and a fine job from the Hull keeper denied him. Combines really well with Rashford and Mkhitaryan. Amazing goal to put United ahead with another great display by the Spaniard, the bright spark tonight. Came off for Fellaini.


Ratings: Mata the bright spark, Rashford desperate to score

Pressed well in the Hull's area a few times early in the first half, a free role from left to right and down in the centre. Missed a brilliant chance to put United ahead early in the second half. Substituted by Martial in the second half, leaving the possibility to score the 250th against Liverpool on Sunday.


22 Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Missed a few good chances in the first half trying to score outside the area, running wide and playing nicely in the middle. Kept doing the same in the second and didn't find the net. A calm game overall tonight from our midfield Armenian. Came off for Jesse Lingard.


19 Marcus Rashford

The nightmare of every goalkeeper with his pace, but needs to control the ball a bit better as those chances in the first half should have been scored. He can be key easily, needs to focus more. Frustrating game for the young English who desperately wanted to score.



11 Anthony Martial

Came in for Wayne Rooney. Just like he stated in the interview, he creates fear for his opponents. Showed what United missed in the first half, his quick movement making Hull City players struggle. Went to score a few times but unlucky like Rashford. It's important to say that he deserves a start on Sunday's game.


14 Jesse Lingard

Came in for Mkhitaryan, didn't have the chance to change the game. Still needs to work hard to make it in the Starting XI.


27 Marouane Fellaini

Came in for Juan Mata and just like the Spaniard scored with his strongest point, his head. In the remaining minutes did his job well and kept United upfront.


Written by Fabiola Cejku


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