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: